Challenging Stock Photo Stereotypes with Getty's Lean In Collection

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

One of the photos of real working women found in Lean In and Getty's updated stock image collection. (Getty)

The era of the picture-of-the-woman-juggling-a-briefcase-and-a-baby is over. Jessica Bennett, journalist and contributing editor at LeanIn.org, talks about the organization's partnership with Getty Images to curate a collection of stock photo images that show realistic, empowered women. And we launch a related photo project, gathering photos of #NotYourStockWoman (details below).

Photo Project!

→ Update: We've started collecting some of our favorites here.

Here's how WNYC is getting in on the project: We’re inviting you to send in your own personal photo that you think represents updated, modern, real working womanhood. Take the photo, and then tag it #NotYourStockWoman on Instagram or Twitter. We'll feature our favorites on the website, and maybe we can even convince Getty and Lean In to feature some of them as well. Just use the tag #NotYourStockWoman. Check out the results on Twitter and Instagram. We'll feature our favorites on the WNYC website soon.

Images from the Lean In Collection on Getty


Jessica Bennett

Comments [18]

Shannon Fagan from Beijing, China

This is a very proud moment for Chinese women in stock photography from China. Our collection built over the last two years in Beijing has the most inclusions of any provider from China present or in the past. A real win for the rapidly growing advertising market here :)


Feb. 14 2014 09:13 PM
Heather from England

(this isn't brief - oops!) Hmmmm. Have read some of the comments. But you know what? These photos made me think back to when I was in elementary school and there's was a big movement away from always using "him" in writing, and instead using gender neutral writing "him/her." As an 8-9 year old I didn't see the point, but I got used to the new way of writing. As an adult, I moved to England. Here, many people still use the "him" way of writing…… and, it's AWFUL. It bugs the heck of me. In a subtle way, I realise how much gendered ways of writing influences my (and others) perceptions. Every "him" I see is now like nails across a chalk board.
I went and looked at the larger set of images. Okay, maybe I don't look perfectly coiffed at the end of the day, but these images are relaying IDEAS - ideas that women are actually in business, being competent. Ideas that they may be at the head of the table even! I loved the picture of the woman in the cafe and the man walking up to meet her. I thought, "Hey! That's me!" I travel frequently for work and often meet work colleagues in restaurants. Have to maximise every moment, you know? I was surprised by that image, and that surprise made me realise something - I rarely see images that reflect my work experiences as a woman. It's the same thing as not realising pre "him/her" in writing that the "her" was missing. We've been missing in photos. It's subtle, but it's important. I'm an academic psychologist. The research is clear. Subtle things like this have a powerful impact on our perceptions that we shouldn't underestimate. Thank you Lean In for this. I'm so happy to finally feel a bit represented!

Feb. 13 2014 01:49 AM
Mary from Ashland, VA

Hate to break it it you gal pals, but real women do actually climb ladders in heels. This one did, at least, after coming home at midnight having worked a 15 hour day. Seeing the Christmas tree undecorated (and my mother arrivingThe following morning), I decided to tackle it before retiring. Yes... In four-inch heeled boots! Problem was, after finishing the tree, I decided to change the star at the top to a bow. Climbed up the ladder one last time, slipped, fell and broke my leg!!!!!

Feb. 12 2014 07:51 PM

For a moment, I thought that was Frances Mcdormand with the huge camera.

Feb. 12 2014 01:40 PM
Stephanie from Italy

Ok so let's just give up and go back to what we're always doing. Let's just continue to condone the stereotypical ages of perfect females displaying what we could never achieve as real working mums. At least Lean In is trying to change SOMETHING

Feb. 12 2014 01:12 PM

Wait.... you mean there are people that actually pay attention to these phony and shallow photos? And they're GROWN-UPS ?? These are the concerns that we are passing down to our adolescent daughters?

Whaaa! nailed it.

Feb. 12 2014 12:27 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

Nick, that photo is hilarious! Especially her porn-star makeup.

Feb. 12 2014 12:03 PM

Would love to see the morning news read by men in sexy shorts and tank tops and women in conservative business suits!

Feb. 12 2014 12:00 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

Annoying stereotypes narratively and visually: all professional women work in corporate office environments; all women have children; all women have white- bread hairstyles, features and clothing.

As a professional photographer, it irritates me to no end to see how overly retouched so many close-up shots are of women's faces. Men are thought to be wise and accomplished as they age, and are allowed their wrinkles. Women need to be portrayed for what's behind their face, which means spending a whole lot less time and effort trying to make that face forever young and stereotypically "perfect."

Feb. 12 2014 12:00 PM

I'd be happy to see minority women in more science poses. I rarely see pictures of Asian, African and Latina women in astronaut outfits?

Feb. 12 2014 11:58 AM
Nick from UWS


Feb. 12 2014 11:53 AM
Nick from UWS

What, for some reason, I'm sick of is whenever a woman is portrayed drinking a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, she is almost ALWAYS shown holding the cup with two hands, drinking the drink with an orgasmic expression. Think I'm nuts? Try Googling this some time. Women and coffee. What, are women too weak to hold a mug with one hand?

Feb. 12 2014 11:50 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

This is kinda petty, considering other more pressing issues at this time. But while we're on this topic, most stock photos are incredibly trite and irritating.

Feb. 12 2014 11:49 AM

Definitely the one with the woman working on a laptop while holding a baby on her lap. Any time I've tried that my baby presses all the buttons on the computer.

Feb. 12 2014 11:48 AM
Lena from Brooklyn

Women laughing alone with salad. Cracks me up every time.

Feb. 12 2014 11:48 AM
Lena from Brooklyn

Women laughing alone with salad. Cracks me up every time.

Feb. 12 2014 11:47 AM
John from Gowanus

Stock images of business women laughing while eating salad alone. I don't think this actually happens.

Feb. 12 2014 11:47 AM

Sure, why should Cheryl Sandberg's Lean-In Foundation be concerned with REAL issues facing women? When I get up in the morning, I don't worry about my affordable housing. Or that there aren't enough middle class jobs anymore. Or the fact that I haven't seen a physician for YEARS. Or food costs. No, I worry about stock photography images. Are you kidding me?

Hey, Cheryl Sandberg, THIS woman has got something for you to lean into. Howsaboutta steep fall off a tall cliff. Just lean in.

Feb. 12 2014 10:22 AM

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