Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg teams up with Getty to kick the sexism out of stock images, with profits going to LeanIn.Org


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The Independent Online

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg has teamed up with Getty Images as part of her work with LeanIn.org to transform the library’s stock images and empower women and families.

Currently, stock imagery is stuffed with stereotypes and it's not subtle about it.

Search for stock images of business women and the average picture library will burp out ditzy 26-year-olds, angry frazzled ‘power women’ and saucy-looking secretaries.

This new collection ensures more authentic images are available and hopes to affect change through this revisulisation of roles.

Instead of relying on a glossy blonde peering over her half-moons to illustrate women in business, journalists can select pictures of women dressed as women do actually dress for work. Editors can now pick pictures of women older than 30 in roles other than that of the doting grandma.



This revamp hasn’t just revolutionised images available to illustrate women in business. Now editors can find stock pictures of women of all ethnicities working as chefs, in the army, as scientists, engineers and mechanics. There's pictures of female boxers, of skateboarders, of older women exercising and of fathers involved in childcare.

Lean In said the collection was "a library devoted to celebrating powerful imagery of women, girls and the communities who support them." Ten per cent of the revenue generated from the images will go to support Leanin.org, which promotes leadership for women.

"You can’t be what you can’t see," said Sheryl Sandberg. "In an age where media are all around us, it is critical that images provide examples that both women and men can emulate."



Pamela Grossman, is Director of Visual Trends at Getty Images and was instrumental in developing the partnership with LeanIn.Org. She said the content "not only reflects the contemporary age we live in, but spurs us on to visualize an even better one.  It’s a space where females are equally celebrated for their life choices and diversity whether they’re students, businesspeople, athletes, aides, mentors, makers, mothers, partners, or none of the above.  Together, we’re aiming to highlight more positive, powerful images of women and girls in hopes that others will do the same in their campaigns and creative projects.

“The optics on womanhood are changing for the better, one picture at a time.  We’re building a new world that’s populated by females who are strong and dynamic, vital and valued.”



Last week, a Westminster Hall debate tackled the issue of gender stereotyping and how it could damage the economy. Jenny Willott, the Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs, expressed her opposition to the gender-specific marketing of children's toys saying it was not just a “not just a side issue” but was “fundamentally important to our economy,”

Limiting how children learn through play could impact on skills shortages across science, technology, engineering and maths. She said by limiting our children’s toys, we tell our daughters and sons their gender "defines the roles they will play in society well into the future and defines what dreams they may have".

The UK currently has the lowest proportion of female professional engineers in Europe at 6 per cent. In December the gender pay gap widened for the first time in five years.