Here’s Looking at You

As we get ready to review the past year and think about our intentions for the coming year, this blog will explore a number of issues for women as consumers, employees, and business owners in December. Today’s Women in Business Wednesday blog examines the question of media images.

Given that it is the year 2015, the representation of business women in magazines or social media sites is still astonishingly uniform. To give just one example, a recent discussion of startup lessons in “Entrepreneur” showed a managing director with bare shoulders in skimpy clothing. Would the editors have chosen to depict a young male entrepreneur in the same attire? Pictures of business women typically do not reflect reality and have actually led to Internet ridicule such as the hilarious Women Laughing Alone with Salad collection. Given the abundance of images in modern media, how does this stereotypical representation of women in media and marketing affect us?

Last year, the non-profit organization announced an initiative to come up with more diverse stock photos for use in marketing and content management. Sheryl Sandberg, the initiative’s founder, envisioned an image collection that would “represent women and families in more empowering ways.”  The result of this effort is the inspiring LeanIn Collection at Getty Images.

The new library of photos shows professional women as surgeons, painters, bakers, soldiers and hunters. There are girls riding skateboards, women lifting weights and fathers changing babies’ diapers. Women in offices wear contemporary clothes and hairstyles and hold tablets or smartphones — a far cry from the typical stock photos of women in 1980s power suits with a briefcase. (NY Times Feb 9, 2014)

The blogger Hilary Topper recently wrote on the aging artist Patti Smith.  Here are some thoughts on embracing age and diversity in images to better reflect our working reality:

  • If you have any influence on image selection in your position, point out examples where a more diverse image would be a good fit
  • Try to share more diverse images in your company’s or private social media feed
  • Give positive feedback to companies that use diverse images in their marketing


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