When you look up “business woman” on Google and Pinterest, a common theme pops up. While all the women ooze power, there is little to no diversity of the photos.
The common image is a women, usually white, wearing a pantsuit or a trendy business professional outfit and is situated at a desk. While there is nothing wrong with pantsuits, there is something wrong with the message given off. The images suggest there is a mold future entrepreneurs have to follow to be defined as a “businesswoman.”
One photographer recognizes the debilitating nature of this mentality and is working to break through this common perception.
Amelia Troubridge, a British portrait photographer, is discouraged by the common image of business woman. She is supportive of the increase in female entrepreneurs; searches for “female entrepreneurs” is up by 66% on Getty Images in the last year. She is, however, upset about how female entrepreneurs are supposedly to fit in with the common conception. She believes that this image is “beyond reach.”
The stereotypes tell women what they’re supposed to look like, which puts them off from pursuing their goals because they don’t believe they fit the typical business woman or female entrepreneur look.
“Women get put off by women in power suits looking wealthy,” she says. She asserts that these stereotypes are damaging for women. In order to remedy this problem, she is teaming up with Innovate UK, a government innovation agency, to create an exhibition that will revamp the way people think of women in business.
The exhibition, Women In Innovation, features different female entrepreneurs at work. Troubridge has 12 of her portraits portrayed in the gallery, with the entrepreneurs being in lab coats, trainers, or even sweatpants. Her photos are meant to show that not all women fit into the mold of wearing pantsuits and working in an office.
Instead, the images feature women in different outfits and landscapes. The outfits range from wearing a spacesuit to rain shoes. They are working in laboratories, in the field, and at home. All of this shows that business has no boundaries. Getty Images will use their images as stock photos, so more women are exposed to the different ways to go about business.
The portraits highlight the importance of transparency in the entrepreneurial world. It is important that women see they don’t have to conform to a societal standard. Rather, female entrepreneurs are those who lead in innovation and have a passion to incite powerful social change. Innovate UK aims to provide women with the business support they need to sustain their endeavors, whether it be the optimization of cancer treatment or creating sustainable alternatives to products that cause pollution and animal harm.
The portraits are diverse in nature, and is another step forward in encouraging women to innovate more. This initiative challenges women to shatter stereotypes, instead of conforming to them.