If you’ve been alive and consuming any kind of visual media in the past 40 years, you can probably conjure in your head with little to no effort an image of business or political power.
That’s because the image is almost always the same: male, in a suit, squared up to the camera, facing down the viewer, often with his arms crossed, but clearly ready to do battle.
A Google image search of “CEO” took all of 3 seconds to locate thousands of images. The majority of them look something like this:
By contrast, powerful women are rarely photographed in the same pose. As my friend jokes, gravity gets very strong when women are looking at a camera.
They are usually sitting, leaning, (God forbid sorority squatting) or they have their hands on their hips. Another Google image search produced these photos and hundreds more just like them. (Note: To find female CEOs I had to include gender in the search criteria. Simply CEO, did not produce photos of women.)
Does the difference in the way we actually view male and female CEOs change our perceptions of them? Probably. I don’t have any studies or data to present to declare definitively.
I offer this by way of explanation of why I ADORE this photo of Wendy Davis. She’s just formally announced her candidacy for Governor of Texas.
I think this may be the best “power” photo I’ve seen of a woman. She’s not pretending to be a man by wearing a poorly fitting suit with enormous shoulder pads. She’s not sexing it up with cleavage or a short skirt. She’s not dripping with kids or flags as props. It’s just her, in an outfit that is quite flattering and feminine, but there is nothing weak about any of it.
Well done, Texas Monthly! Here’s hoping we see more photos like this in the future.