Starling calls for image equality around women and money

By Oliver Smith on Friday 21 May 2021

Alternative LendingDigital BankingSavings and Investment

Too often, women are represented as childlike with money in photography.

Starling calls for image equality around women and money
Image source: Anne Boden/Starling Bank.

Stock photography far too often either infantilises or mischaracterises women’s relationship with money, according to research from Starling Bank and Brunel University.

The study looked at 600 images from three leading image libraries and found that women were four times more likely to be depicted as childlike with their money (15 per cent compared to just 4 per cent of men’s images). Women mainly were pictured holding coins, often pennies, and putting these in piggy banks or savings jars (24 per cent, versus just 8 per cent for men).

Men, meanwhile, are most likely to be found holding notes (53 per cent, versus 44 per cent), and counting or showing off this money while socialising with friends (19 per cent compared to 4 per cent).

The net result of which implies two very different relationships with money in images that are, sadly, all too often used in the media.

“We began our Make Money Equal campaign three years ago, looking at the discrepancy in the language used when women and men are spoken to about money in the media,” said Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank.

“Today, we’re looking at the imagery that is used on thousands of websites and in printed media which has revealed some very stark inequalities in how women are represented with money compared to men.”

Boden pointed out that it’s the subconscious impact of these images is to reinforce stereotypes that ultimately influence behaviour, to the detriment of everyone.

“We need fewer piggy banks and pennies, more instances of women taking the lead, and greater diversity overall,” the CEO said.

Professor Shireen Kaji from Brunel, who co-authored the report, added: “These depictions really matter. They negatively affect not only how people are treated, but also how they feel about themselves in terms of money, which is typically used to symbolise power, influence and freedom.”

To help start improving the situation, Starling teamed up with Lensi Photography to create a new image library here of 100 royalty-free photographs for anyone to use that better represent woman and money.

Now it’s up to the financial media to adopt more diverse photography like this, rather than relying on the stereotype stock imagery of the past.

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