Today, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In organization will announce a partnership with Getty Images, one of the largest providers of stock photos for ads and editorial outlets. The "Lean In collection" has over 2,500 images of modern-looking women being doctors, having tattoos, and tending to children without literally juggling them.
Stock photos of women, especially "career women" or "working mothers" are notoriously sexist and often just bizarre. The classic compilation "Women Laughing Alone with Salad" from Edith Zimmerman at The Hairpin illustrates the problem pretty well. More recently, The Cut compiled stock images of "feminism," which include photos of big-breasted women wearing boxing gloves, climbing ladders in heels, and holding power tools. If you search "feminism" on Shutterstock, another lead provider of stock images, photos of women shaving their imaginary beards appear on the first page of results.
Obviously, it'd be great to have some more realistic options. Sandberg hopes the Getty partnership will help change the way America views women. She told The New York Times, "When we see images of women and girls and men, they often fall into the stereotypes that we’re trying to overcome, and you can’t be what you can’t see." The Lean In collection features photos of stylish working women (even older women!) and young girls using computers. It also includes images of men caring for children. While the models are all conventionally attractive, they're not exclusively white.
The partnership is typical of Sandberg's non-profit organization: it's with a big company, it fights the kind of blatant sexism most people agree is wrong, and a portion of the proceeds go right back to Lean In. Feminist Twitter is already on board.
Lead image by NotarYES via Shutterstock.