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CannesLions2014 Cannes Lions Special: Using images & visual language to narrow the gender gap

Cannes Lions Special: Using images & visual language to narrow the gender gap

Author | Priyanka Mehra | Tuesday, Jun 17,2014 8:34 AM

Cannes Lions Special: Using images & visual language to narrow the gender gap

Pam Grossman, Director, Visual Trends, Getty Images and Jessica Bennett, Journalist, Editor , Lean In presented a very thought-provoking session on influence of images & society’s perception of women. Given that Facebook and Instagram are taking the usage of pictures to a new league, a  whole different and powerful language of our generation is evolving.

They have also become a powerful force in influencing our perceptions and thought processes. Unfortunately more often than not, visual media portrays women as sexualized, sidelined or in supporting roles, and research shows that the more media a girl consumes, the lesser options she believes she has in life.

Fortunately, this is changing. On social media, where women form a majority of user base, young women are using the language of images – from memes, GIFs to the rise of the #uglyselfie, to shift perceptions about gender and power.

Grossman and Bennett shared how through visual language, women have the power to  influence change. Grossman cited various examples of and analysed images by scanning each image through the lens of gender bias.

For instance,  when today women hold vast majority of spending power, why do companies still target  women using pink colour, she further shared a picture of a working women with a baby coming out of her briefcase, which depicted she was unable to handle a career and her household.

Some of the other significant trends in images are as follows:

• There has been an increase of images of women being powerful.  From politics to business there has been a strong rise in images of women in powerful roles.
• Large companies including FMCG, durables have shifted from using professional models to using real people. It is believed that consumers are more perceptive to images of real people to models.
• Toy industry is moving away from stereotypes of quintessential pink toys for girls and blue toys for boys.
• Fatherhood is being elevated to heroism in images.
• Top selling images of women from 2007 – 2012 has seen a sea change, the current top selling image is that of a woman who is independent and in-charge of her own life.

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