LeanIn.org Wants To Change Image of Working Women

By Jerry Large
The Seattle Times.

A few years ago, if you wanted an image to show that women can compete with men in the workplace, you might have picked a photograph of a woman in a snug business suit, wearing red boxing gloves.

Or you might have illustrated women rising in the workplace with a woman, again in a fetching business suit, climbing a ladder. She’d also be wearing high heels, of course.

Unfortunately, images like that are still around in digital archives and they still get used. But there are thousands of better alternatives and many of them are gathered in a new collection of images that avoid trite or stereotypical portrayals of women in favor of more realistic life moments.

The Lean In Collection is a 2-week-old partnership between Getty Images and LeanIn.org, the nonprofit founded by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to contribute to women’s empowerment.

Getty Images provides illustrations to 2.4 million clients in more than 100 countries. Its customers cover a broad spectrum from advertising and marketing to news media and from large corporations to individual bloggers. Getty is a young company, founded in 1995 to bring stock photos into the digital age.

Pam Grossman, director for visual trends at Getty, was instrumental in forming the partnership with LeanIn.org, which is another step toward modernizing stock images.

“Images are the universal language, especially the more digitized and connected the world becomes,” Grossman told me when I asked her about the project Friday. The cultural-anthropology major said that images have an immediate emotional impact and deliver messages that affect us consciously and unconsciously on a deep level.

The team she works with has been studying depictions of women for at least the decade she’s been with Getty. Last summer she noticed an uptick in discussions nationally about portrayals of women and girls and decided Getty should have a voice. She put together a presentation that got her an invitation to meet with LeanIn.org, and the partnership grew from that meeting.

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