What do we mean when we talk about gendered media? Have you ever gone onto a stock image website and searched for images using keywords such as “meeting” and seen mostly pictures of men in suits in the results? Have you searched for an image of teacher and found mostly pictures of smiling women in the results? Using gender stereotypes of convey ideas in photographs is an example of gendered media.
For example, what’s the message in this icon for a baby changing station? That changing a baby is a woman’s job? When the sign was designed, the illustrator reached for a stereotype to convey the message.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. You could leave out the adult entirely to indicate that a person of any gender can change a baby. Perpetuating the idea that women are responsible for childcare hurts everyone. By continuing to reinforce the idea that women are the primary care-givers, we reduce their agency. By not acknowledging that men can do these tasks just as well, we are reinforcing a toxic idea of what masculinity looks like.
The cumulative effect of the gendered images we are exposed to every day in the media is that stereotypes are constantly reinforced. As someone creating or working with digital media, you can easily change these kinds of messages. Click here to find out how.