Look at the picture above, what do you see? That’s the front cover of City A.M. on 28-Feb-12 showing what £67.7bn can buy in the UK public sector.
Look closer, what else do you see? Obviously, the lower the average per annum income for a group of people, the more people you can pay. Key professions have been picked for the image. At the bottom, we have nurses and teachers: all women, you can tell from the long hair. At the top, we have bobbies, GPs and senior police: the higher paid professions and of course they have all been portrayed as men, the ties give that away.
A clear depiction of the income gap between men and women, a clear depiction of career stereotypes.
Is it any wonder that women are said to have lower aspirations? The media consistently bombards us with images that define the status quo. People subconsciously and unknowingly respond to stereotypes: aiming and applying for jobs that society says are ‘normal’ for their type.
I very much doubt that too much thought went into creating this image and that’s what makes it so powerful. Stereotypes are so deeply ingrained. Indeed, if the cartoonist had decided to split each line according to the true gender mix in that profession, people may well have screamed “It’s political correctness gone mad!’
Anyway, having made this casual observation, I decided to take it a step further. Using 4 City A.M. papers that were yet to be discarded, I counted the number of male vs. female faces. I excluded the sports section, it was all 100% men and I excluded pictures of crowds because it can be difficult to differentiate man from woman. I did include the fictional ‘tipster’ because he is most certainly depicted as a man. However, I also include the female cartoon in the Lloyds Banking advert to keep it fair. Each image had to be indisputably male or female. The results:
14-Feb: 37 men, 11 women i.e. 23% women
24-Feb: 47 men, 17 women i.e. 27% women
14-Feb: 41 men, 13 women i.e. 24% women
28-Feb: 41 men, 7 women i.e. 15% women
What’s your point, Heather, I hear you ask? I don’t have one, numbers just intrigue me.