This project aims to promote diversity in the tech industry by filling a conspicuous gap in stock photography: the availability of images that depict women of color in the technology industry. Its first Flickr album is loaded with Creative Commons-licensed images that are free to use with attribution, all of them featuring a variety of recognizably authentic, non-Caucasian women in business environments. The hope is that designers will…
use these images in pieces about entrepreneurs, software engineers, infosec professionals, IT analysts, marketers, and other people who make up the tech ecosystem. Just as white women have been the default ‘woman’ in technology and American society as a whole, we believe the underlying belief of what it means to be—and who can be—a tech worker in the 21st century can benefit from this form of ‘disruption.’
There are nearly sixty images here, all shot by photographer Mike Ngo. Seeing them in a batch like this is really striking; it made me realize how unusual it is to see women of color in photographs like these, and how that lack of visibility subconsciously influences my expectations for the genders and race I expect to encounter in this industry. The very fact that they seem so novel speaks to how exclusion works in today’s workplaces; it’s not overtly discriminatory, but instead very subtle in its insidiousness.
It’s worth noting that there are literally millions of stock photos out there, so while this is a great start, it’s just a drop in the bucket. What this project really needs to succeed is for stock agencies—lots of them—to see this as a provocation to start diversifying their own catalogs with similar images. And of course, for this to become a truly legitimate stock photo category, we need to see some pics of these women shaking hands too.