Women’s magazines have been a staunch cheerleader for gender equality and female empowerment, but Glamour is hoping to take its advocacy a step further.
Late last spring, with the presidential election heating up and Hillary Clinton‘s historic candidacy taking center stage, the staff at Glamour began talking more about gender equality, and noticed a surprising discrepancy. Flipping through copies of the magazine, staffers realized that while Glamour’s masthead was mainly populated by women, the photographers, stylists and creative artists responsible for making the images in the magazine were mostly men.
The irony of the situation — namely the fact that Glamour is all for gender parity in the workplace — hit editor in chief Cindi Leive rather hard.
“We’re a brand that cries foul when there are not enough women represented,” Leive said, pointing to the disparity of female chief executive officers. “Glamour is the first to talk about why that should change.”
The editor continued: “As of the fall, only 37 percent of the photographers we were using in our own print pages were female, and 32 percent of the hairstylists…and fewer than half of the makeup artists.”
“We looked at our competitors and saw we were probably somewhere in the middle [in employing women],” she said. “We thought, ‘OK, let’s put our money where our mouth is.'”
As a result, the February issue, which features the cast from “Girls” on its cover, was created by women — every page.
In her editor’s letter, Leive emphasized that, offering: “Gender equality is on all our minds, and gender equality doesn’t just happen at the ceo or president-of-America level. It starts at home, and as I looked at those numbers, it was pretty clear: Our home could use a shake-up. That shake-up begins with this issue, where, from first page to last, every photo we commissioned was created by women: photographers, stylists, hair, makeup, everything.”
(The one exception was Michelle Obama‘s makeup artist Carl Ray, who is featured in the magazine).
And Glamour said it plans to continue to pump up its representation of women in creative-contributor roles “meaningfully” though 2017. Leive said her team will report back to their readers later in the year to prove that good work they have done.
When asked why she believes that — even in fashion — men seem to thrive at the top rungs over women, Leive didn’t have a simple answer. She cited research by sociologists that revealed the different language used to describe the work of male designers versus female designers. The work of male designers is often described as “art or groundbreaking or innovative,” while the work of their female counterparts is “wearable even when it’s not” she said.
“A lot of people talk about the glass runway. It starts with designers and goes on to hairstylists and photographers,” the editor said, explaining that if magazines “promote” the work of women, perhaps there will be a change.