Tomorrow, March 8th, marks the International Celebration of Women and all their contributions to society, whether economic, social, or political. A day to examine the daily struggles of half the human race and break the historical barriers that have so often limited them. In the last fortnight we’ve reflected upon the ways in which Fotolia and the stock image industry has helped women around the world realize their ambitions.

Women's Day

Women’s Day

As Europe’s leading microstock agency, Fotolia is always searching to challenge the stereotypes so often used in images. These stereotypes are archaic and they no longer fit client briefs.  The images called for today, in the second decade of the 21st century, are markedly less traditional, and match women’s achievements in every sphere, from technology and business to family life.

One of the UK’s most successful stock photographers, Cathy Yeulet, explained that the demand for women in non-gender specific roles has increased, confirming that in two of her images, one with a man at the head of a boardroom table and one with a woman actually saw more sales for the female in the lead role. This single image and its popularity typify the change in buyers needs. Clearly, more such images showing this change in representation are needed.

Businesswoman Addressing Meeting Around Boardroom Table

Businesswoman Addressing Meeting Around Boardroom Table

Fashion shoots do not depict reality – everyone knows that. Stock photos do. They are seldom aspirational or unachievable, but represent people’s daily lives and ordinary environments, because reality isn’t as glamorous or beautiful as we’d like. Therefore, stock photography fills a special niche in the market – not quite “real” but not “fantasy” or “glamour” either.

It’s the flexibility of the stock industry that has made it such a valuable career option for many women. Marisa Ruiz, one of Spain’s leading female stock contributors, highlights the freedom the stock industry offers: “Being able to work anywhere and without fixed working time has been very important for me. That has been essential to allow me to reconcile work and family life”

But major growth in the numbers of women working in the stock photography will inevitably change the way women are represented in the industry. 16% of the best-selling images of 2013 were taken by women, and this figure looks only set to increase in 2014. ‘Being a woman is a chance to show a different sensitivity and another point of view’ says French Contributor Celine Rolland – -something most buyers are now aware of, especially when it comes to choosing images targeting the female market.

Women only represented 18% of the total amount of contributors in 2007. This has increased to over 28% in 2013 highlighting significantly the growing appeal the stock industry is as a career option for many women.

Fotolia values the portrayal of women in stock imagery. Search for ‘woman working’ on and the diversity of our images embraces the domestic, the professional, and the technical. There are women of all ages, all races, in all roles.

As Diana Drubig, a photographer and one-time Miss Germany, states: ‘I am enthusiastic about working with models of all ages, regardless of their clothing size’. There needs to be a much wider choice of representations available to women, composed individuals and their imperfections.

Grandmother and Granddaughter

Grandmother and Granddaughter

Our hope is that our stock images give society a real choice in its representations of women, by providing so many hundreds of thousands of different options. And with that choice comes a sustained revolution in society’s perceptions of women allowing a continued change.

However, Fotolia and our thousands of dedicated creatives (both men and women) cannot achieve this alone. We need society to continue to push the boundaries for women and buy into this broader, more representative, world.