Starling Bank has launched a campaign to improve the representation of women and money, after a report revealed that women are often seen as “childlike” when handling money in visual media.

The study from Brunel University and Starling looked at 600 of the most popular stock photographs of women/men and finance. According to the report, across the image libraries, women were often seen as childlike compared to men.

In response and as part of its Make Money Equal campaign, Starling has teamed up with Lesni Photography to create a new image library of 100 photographs that better represent women and money.

Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank, said: “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.”

The researchers said that this representation could negatively impact how women are treated when it comes to finance. They also said that women may see themselves in a negative light because of the images, which appear on up to 180 websites.

Boden added: “Financial inequality doesn’t end with the wage gap – it’s all around us in the images we consume, often subconsciously, every day. That needs to change.”

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Women seen as childlike with money

In the images, women were nearly four times as likely to be depicted as childlike with their money compared to men (15% compared to 4%).

Meanwhile, just under a quarter (24%) of women were pictured enthusiastically placing money in piggy banks or savings jars, compared to only 8% for men.

Men were also mostly shown with notes (53% compared to 44%), while women were more likely to be pictured with coins (25% compared to 13%).

Professor Shireen Kanji from Brunel University, co-author of the report, said: “Our analysis revealed clear differences in how men and women are represented with money, as well as a general lack of diversity.”

“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.”

Make Money Equal campaign

The new images from Starling feature a number of different settings and women, including a grey-haired mother with her deaf adult daughter and her daughter’s girlfriend, a professional in a headscarf in an office setting, a young family with the mum signing documents as if buying a house, and a tattooed small business owner.

Boden said: “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.

“Too often women are pictured like children with tiny amounts of money. We need fewer piggy banks and pennies, more instances of women taking the lead, and greater diversity overall.

“That’s why we’ve created a new image library of free, rights-free photography that addresses some of the most common issues and should move us a little bit closer to financial equality in visual media.”

The images are available for free.