When the 19th amendment to the United States constitution was ratified in 1920, women were guaranteed the right to vote. While this was one of the first, and arguably one of the most important steps towards achieving gender equality, it’s clear we haven’t quite made it there yet: only 18% of the House of Representatives is comprised of women. Women run only 16% of the largest nonprofits. Less than 30% of guests on the “Big Five” Sunday talk shows were women during all of 2013. Approximately none of the International Olympic Committee presidents have been women.
Despite this, women are making tremendous progress, and it shows: 46% of Forbes’ 50 Social Media Power Influencers, for example, are women. At this moment, the entire congressional delegation of the state of New Hampshire and its governor are female. And while barely reaching 5% isn’t exactly something to cheer about, there are more women listed as Fortune 500 CEOs than in the past, indicating that women are being respected as leaders more now than ever before.
As researchers, we’re on the forefront of trends like this, often seeing them begin long before they take shape in the public’s imagination. Recent work conducted in conjunction with Bentley University, for example, highlighted that “Millennial women have great confidence in women’s skills and abilities.” This is an attitude that may become more prevalent as this generation begins to move into positions of powers, with a focus on solutions that will help Millennial women succeed by overcoming gender bias and focusing on women’s long-term success in the workforce.
Capturing the leading edge of this societal shift is exciting, and when we report on research findings about the changing roles of women, we rely on stock photography to make the results come to life for clients, stakeholders, and anyone else who may be consumers of such insights. But stock photography hasn’t always suited our needs: searching for “career woman” or “businesswoman,” for example, may help you find “Women Climbing Impossible Things” or “Women’s Heels Conquering Tiny Men,” but it hasn’t always illustrated the progress that women are making every day. Stock photos have been a missed opportunity to show the world what women really look like in 2014. They have become instead, according to Facebook executive and women’s leadership advocate Sheryl Sandberg, “the stereotypes we’re trying to overcome.”
That’s one of the many reasons we were so pleased when, this past November, KRC client Getty teamed up with Sandberg’s LeanIn.org to change the portrayal of women in stock photos. The Lean In Collection gives us diversity in image choices, with women from a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds participating in activities at their jobs and during their leisure time. And even among those pictures that aren’t new to Getty, sales of images in the Lean In Collection are up 31%, suggesting that customers are looking to the collection specifically. From little girls doing science experiments to women playing sports or just hanging out at work, Getty is changing the way KRC can portray successful women. We’re grateful to Getty and LeanIn.org for more accurately capturing what women look like and what we can achieve!