Leadership

Changing Perceptions: LeanIn.Org Gives Stock Photos a New Image

By / Feb 11, 2014 (Lean In Collection/Digital Vision/Thinkstock)

Aiming to challenge the often stereotypical presentation of women in stock art, Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn.Org has teamed with Getty Images to create a new image collection with a more progressive view.

These aren’t just any ordinary stock photos.

For years, image collections large and small have presented women in a limited number of contexts. Some show traditional gender roles (think housewife), while others offer an outdated concept of what professional women do and even wear (think retro pantsuits).

LeanIn.Org, the nonprofit group launched last year by Facebook Chief Operating Officer (and newly minted billionaire) Sheryl Sandberg is hoping to change the dynamic with the help of partner Getty Images, the world’s largest provider of stock photos. The partnership is creating a stock art collection—the Lean In Collection—that shows women of all ages in modern contexts and realistic situations.

And not a moment too soon.

“The stock imagery around women is embarrassing,” the organization’s editor-in-chief, Jessica Bennett, told Mashable. “You can’t be what you can’t see, so if women and girls are not seeing images of powerful women and girls who are leaders, then they may not aspire to become that.”

At launch, the Lean In Collection included roughly 2,500 images, about a quarter of them new to Getty Images. The company has pledged to continue adding photos to the collection. (Editor’s note: The Thinkstock subscription service, owned by Getty Images and used by Associations Now, includes only a small subset of this collection; one of its images is used above.)

The new collection’s value isn’t lost on Getty’s Jonathan Klein, who says that in the age of social media, strong imagery is more important than ever.

“Imagery has become the communication medium of this generation, and that really means how people are portrayed visually is going to have more influence on how people are seen and perceived than anything else,” Klein told The New York Times.

The LeanIn.org-Getty Images partnership also includes a financial element. According to Mashable, Getty has pledged to offer two new photography grants—one for $10,000 for work that reflects positive imagery of women and girls, and another for $20,000 for a commercial or creative campaign relevant to LeanIn.org’s mission. And the Times reports that a portion of the proceeds from the collection’s sales will go to the nonprofit.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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