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As you surf the internet, you can’t help but stumble upon stock photography. One too many times we’ve seen females as secretaries, nurses and yoga instructors, and men dominating the more powerful professions. People deliberately choose specific images of males and females that best embody their respective roles in the workforce. If you pay close attention, you will realize that even stock photography tends to be sexist through the portrayal of outdated stereotypes.

Let’s start with a basic example. When you think of the word ‘manager’, do you picture a man or a woman? In today’s world this view is challenged. When it comes to business, both men and women are well suited for visual representation of occupations. To dig further into this issue and shed light on the gender imbalance in stock photography, we conducted research that reveals a great deal about the scope of the issue in the visual communication industry.

Our 50 million files library contains thousands of  photographs of men and women in pursuits of different occupations. To start our research, we took a look at what our clients search for when they are trying to find an image of a certain profession. From there, we looked at how women are portrayed through photography. The results of our study reveal the extent of inequality in searches for occupations and the gender imbalance between different professions.

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Twice as many people have searched for ‘businessman’ than ‘businesswoman’. Other stereotypical roles that were assigned to women include secretaries, teachers, doctors, and dietitians. Interestingly, the only categories that were dominated by men included searches for businessmen, managers, drivers and software engineers. Why is it that we think men or women are better suitable for certain professions? Without a doubt, we subconsciously stick to certain stereotypes with occupations and gender archetypes become unavoidable.

The shocking ratio of stock photos depicting male politicians as opposed to female politicians is 10:1. Does this mean we give our preferences to male leaders when it comes to politics? Women are more often represented as nurses and secretaries rather than lawyers, mathematicians and managers. It seems that gender really does weigh in to decision making when it comes to occupations.

Upon completing our survey, we compiled a collection of photographs that promotes equality, challenges stereotypes and eliminates common presumptions about genders and professions. In our selection of images, women are represented in positions of power in a wider selection of professions.  With a growing demand for non-stereotypical imagery of women, clients and contributors alike can help start a new movement. The sooner we start seeing better representations of the contemporary roles of females, the quicker we will find ourselves in a world that guarantees equality for all.

[See the collection]

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