Top private school accused of sexism for advert showing boy aiming to be a lawyer and girl as an aspiring vocalist

Gareth Davies
The Ardingly College advert which appeared on the back of a bus in Sussex

A top private school has been accused of "everyday sexism" for an advert showing a boy aiming to be a lawyer or politician and a girl setting her sights on becoming a pop star or a soap opera actress. 

The £36,000-a-year Ardingly College near Haywards Heath in West Sussex has come in for scathing criticism for a poster that appeared on public buses across the county. 

Running with the slogan 'World Ready', the advert has been branded politically incorrect after showing a male pupil with labels showing he aspires to be a politician, lawyer or swimmer, while a female counterpart has the tags 'vocalist', 'actor', 'writer'.

The adverts have been live for a month, but have provoked a hostile reaction from Sussex residents including Rachel Brown who called it 'entry level sexism'.

Another, Tanya Taylor, shared a picture of the poster with the caption, "shame on you Ardingly College" and used the hashtag "every day sexism" and one mother said she would never send her daughters to the boarding school.

But headteacher Ben Figgis said the criticism was wide of the mark, claiming "casual observers" had misinterpreted the advertising campaign.

An alternative "World-Ready" poster showing the girl aiming to be a linguist, humanitarian or racing driver and the boy a business leader, electronics engineer or sporstman

He said the tags attached to the boy and girl were "the personal ambitions of the students pictured in the billboard" and that other adverts in the campaign showed different preferences.

Mr Figgis said: "The key point about our ads is that the children themselves have chosen the career ambitions that feature alongside them. As a school we have not put words into their mouths, nor would we want to."

"We have featured girls aspiring to become scientists and surgeons as well as boys becoming writers and linguists.

"Among our girls, one is the head of our engineering project Ardingly Solar, while another recently became a finalist in the UK Space Design competition.

"But we also celebrate girls succeeding as artists, musicians and any other ambition they pursue."

The headteacher's explanations did not wash with many, including Brighton and Hove city councillor Emma Daniel , who said she and her friends had been outraged.

She said: "I am sure not intentional but as a politician with a law degree I do find it a little cliche."

Student Joely McEwan said she and her friends were "disgusted" by the advert.

 

 

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes