The new polymer version of Canada’s $100 bill was sent back to the drawing board after focus groups commented on the ‘Asian-looking’ woman on the back of the bill. The woman was depicted looking into a microscope, with a small bottle of insulin in front of it. The focus groups apparently thought that depicting an Asian woman was too stereotypical. They also thought that more ethnicities should be represented.
As a result of these comments, the woman on the bill, which was actually an altered photo of a South Asian woman, was changed to appear more “ethnically neutral.” In other words, she now appears to be Caucasian, which critics pointed out is not a ‘neutral ethnicity,’ it’s just the one that happens to be dominant in this country, though the population is shifting. This ‘neutral ethnicity’ is apparently a policy of the Bank of Canada, despite the wide variety of ethnicities across the country.
The governor of the Bank of Canada apologized after the change became news. Mark Carney said that in the future, Canada’s currency will show more diversity.
This is the second time Canada’s new polymer bills have caused controversy. Focus groups looking at the new $20 bill and saw the World Trade Center towers (actually the Vimy Memorial in France which commemorates Canada’s role in the Battle of Vimy Ridge) and also commented on the bare-breasted female statues that are part of the memorial.
A marketing professor suggested that the reaction to the change on the $100 bill might show that it’s best for the Bank of Canada to avoid depictions of any person on their currency, save for historical figures – in this case it would logically be Sir Frederick Banting, the Canadian inventor of insulin. Ken Wong told the Financial Post “The moment they decided to depict only one person, they left themselves open to complaints about failing to recognize diversity.”
Photo Credit: peta_azak