Lean-In.org has collaborated with Getty Images to create a gallery of 2,500 images. Most are of women, working in all kinds of jobs. There are also photographs of men doing household tasks and being active fathers. The photographs challenge old gender stereotypes — of women as mothers and home-makers vs. men as engaged in the world of work.
The mission of DifferenceWORKS is to increase workplace gender diversity. In workshops, we raise awareness of the advantages of gender diversity, including productivity, retention and the bottom line. We talk about what leaders are doing to increase gender diversity in leadership.
McKinsey & Co. publishes a report called “Women Matter.” The report documents that, even companies that are doing good things to increase gender diversity, are having disappointing results. They conclude that is because “invisible” or “unacknowledged” “mindsets” remain. (Some people use the term “unconscious biases.”)
In our work we use the term “blind spots” to address the unconscious mindsets that create obstacles for women and, so, for gender diversity. One of them is “unconscious images.” We all have pictures in our minds about how things look. We tend to have images of leadership that bring to mind masculine leadership styles or, at the level of appearance, tall, white, lean males. We also have images, or stereotypes, of what women tend to do and how women in general think and behave. Those unconscious images can interfere with objective perceptions of a woman’s leadership potential.
In our workshops, our goal is to bring unconscious images to conscious awareness, lowering obstacles for women. In the news, we see more and more women speaking as credible leaders and experts. There are 23 women CEO’s in the Fortune 500. Surely the presence of more women in stereotypically masculine roles is changing the limiting images people once had of what women can do. The Lean-in gallery is a tangible effort to continue to broaden our images of how women are or should be.
Hats off to the Lean In Collection! Have you seen it?