Getty Images and LeanIn.org, the nonprofit organization founded by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, have teamed up to create a new collection of 2,500 stock images depicting women.
The current library of images on Getty portraying women includes several stereotypes, critics say, such as a power-suited pregnant businesswomen holding files and smiling broadly, a work-from-home mother doing her best to attend to both her computer and her child, and a woman wearing kitten heels and holding a briefcase while taking her son to school.
Such images, according to Sandberg, are hurtful to women because they propagate certain generalizations about women in the workplace that she urges people to avoid.
“You can’t be what you can’t see,” Sandberg said in a press release, “ In an age where media are all around us, it is critical that images provide examples that both women and men can emulate.”
In an effort to change society’s perception of women, LeanIn has worked with Getty to curate a collection of images showing women in different professional positions. According to The New York Times, which first reported the partnership Monday, the images show women working as soldiers, bakers, hunters and surgeons, among other careers, while wearing modern clothing and working in modern settings.
The change could have a widespread impact on the depiction of women in media thanks to a big appetite for these kinds of images; the three-most searched terms in Getty are “women,” “business” and “family," the Times reported.
Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images stressed the significance of the search trends.
“Imagery is the universal language through which the world communicates,” he said in a press release. “The Lean In collection has the power to lead the visual conversation and effect real change.”
Sandberg launched her nonprofit after publishing “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” The book, praised by some for promoting strong female leadership, also came under fire for putting pressure on individual women to break the glass ceiling, rather than on society and companies. The partnership with Getty could allow Sandberg to reach a wider base of women and dispel criticisms of her message’s relevance only to women in corporate environments.
Ten percent of the revenue from the joint collection will go to Sandberg’s LeanIn.org and another portion of the proceeds will go towards Getty Images photography grants for images that showcase female empowerment.