BBC Radio 4 Today host John Humphrys has prompted a debate over childcare after suggesting that women are “better” than men at looking after babies.
The radio presenter and Mastermind host made the claim as he discussed the ban of TV advertisements promoting gender stereotypes.
Humphrys claimed that the idea of advertising women as good carers for children was “desirable” because they are “better” at it than men.
"A woman looking after a baby is, by any estimate, a very, very good and desirable thing for society,” he said.
"And by and large, and this – maybe I will be attacked for this – you do a better job at it than men. At least in our experience, I would have thought. Isn’t that common sense?"
His comments came in wake of the decision from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to ban adverts from Volkswagen and food company Mondelēz for promoting gender stereotypes.
Humphrys’ remarks soon sparked a debate on social media, with Radio 4 listeners taking to Twitter to express their disagreement with the presenter.
Can all men who care for their children please let John Humphrys know that they do this in a way just as loving and skilful as women?— Molly Scott Cato MEP (@MollyMEP) August 14, 2019
John Humphrys sneering at the idea gender stereotypes cause harm or that women aren't naturally better than men at looking after babies. No, there's nothing wrong with being a care giver John. But do you know how much more than a care giver you earn? #r4today #structuralsexism— Sophie Walker (@SophieRunning) August 14, 2019
What a shocking interview by John Humphrys re: gender stereotyping in adverts @BBCr4today. His attitudes serve to illustrate why this type of advertising continues to exist. 😠— Helen Stevens (@HelenSaltedit) August 14, 2019
One user tweeted: “Can all men who care for their children please let John Humphrys know that they do this in a way just as loving and skilful as women? Thanks!”
While another wrote: “His attitudes serve to illustrate why this type of advertising continues to exist.”
The ASA received around 128 complaints over a Mondelēz advert that saw two fathers failing to pay attention to their children after being distracted Philadelphia cheese. The complaints argued that the advert was promoting the stereotype of men not being able to take care of children.
Meanwhile, three complaints were made about a Volkswagen advert depicting a woman reading on a bench with a pram next to her.
ASA Investigation Manager Jess Tye said of the adverts: “Ads that specifically contrast male and female stereotypes need to be handled with care.
"It's about thinking about what the cumulative effect of those gender stereotypes might be."