iStock data reveals UK brands and businesses used images of mothers home-schooling three times more than fathers in visualising life in the pandemic

iStock, a leading global source of visual content, has revealed customer download data which shows that UK brands and businesses are relying on old gender stereotypes when visualising life in the pandemic. 

The data shows that in the last year, iStock customers in the UK downloaded visuals of mothers home-schooling children over three times more than visuals of fathers doing home-schooling. The data also details that in 2020 the top selling image relating to home-schooling in the UK is an image of a father working on a laptop, while a mother sits on the same kitchen table helping her son with homework, which further reinforces outdated and harmful gender stereotypes.   

Additionally, in the most downloaded images around ‘working from home’, mothers doing domestic chores or childcare are depicted two times more than fathers. UK mothers are also depicted juggling children and work 1.5 times more. 

In recent years we have seen a move in the right direction when it comes to gender representation and it has certainly been a topic of discussion during the pandemic, however despite brand’s best efforts, there is still an overreliance on old stereotypes when depicting something that has only been visualised in the last 12 months,” comments Jacqueline Bourke, Director, Creative Insights, EMEA, at iStock. “That our most downloaded visual stories of these scenarios disproportionately show women as primary caregivers in domestic or childcare roles tells us UK brands and businesses still have a long way to go in supporting gender equality in the workplace and at home.” 

Data gathered for Visual GPS, an in-house iStock research initiative, confirms the impact of misrepresentation in visual communications, with 52% of UK women surveyed saying they have been affected by gender bias. Additionally, the data shows misrepresentation affects both men and women in the UK with only 6% men and 9% women reporting they feel well represented in advertising, both reporting only 7% consider themselves well represented in communications from companies they do business with.  

Progress in ethnic diversity but women over 50, with disability or larger bodies almost invisible 

Progress has been made around companies representing women of different ethnic backgrounds. iStock’s data reveals that of all images downloaded by UK customers to show women working from home, 17% are Black women and 13% Asian women. Yet the data shows there is still much work to be done to achieve full inclusivity with only 0.4% showing women with a disability, 7% showing women over 50 and 5% showing women with larger bodies. 

For SMBs seeking to build confidence with their audience(s), Jacqueline Bourke, Director, Creative Insights, EMEA, at iStock outlined three tips they should keep in mind when selecting inclusive visuals:  

Counteract gender stereotypes—Take proactive steps to debunk gender stereotypes and choose visuals that represent the varied realities of people everywhere. You should consider whether the roles depicted in the imagery you choose are equally attributable to women and men. Ask yourself:   

  • Areyou authentically representing the many different people that take on role of caregiver? 
  • Is there an equal division of perceived“power”?  

Draw inspiration from real life – Showing real people, living full lives will forge greater connections with your audience. Actively ask yourself:  

  • Are you using stereotypes torepresent women of nonwhite ethnicities?  
  • Are you showing women over 50 (andup to 100!) as content, active and fulfilled?  
  • Are you representing women with larger bodies? Shorter bodies? Women with physical disabilities? 

Authentically represent all families —In visualizing families make sure that you are inclusive of the full spectrum of the population – representing all ethnicities, ages, people with disabilities and inclusive of LGBTQ people. To more actively address this, ask yourself: 

  • Are yourepresenting all types of families, inclusive of LGBTQ families? 
  • Are yourepresenting families with parents of a variety of ages?  
  • Have you considered including family members with disabilities?
  • Are you selecting imagery that represents a range ofcultures and settings?  

To search empowering imagery and footage that showcases diversity in all its forms and celebrates our unique differences, visit:https://www.istockphoto.com/diversity 

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