Monday, May 28, 2018
Home Blog Page 3

Joanne Eve on How To Make Stronger Decisions

0

In this Coaching Hub video, life coach Joanne Eve helps you to make stronger decisions. First take your time, do some fact finding (don’t always listen to other’s opinions), write down the pros’ and cons and perhaps the most important thing, trust your intuition!

Watch and be empowered!

10 Strategies To Help You Tweet Like A Social Media Rockstar, by Jennifer Corcoran

5

One of our #connecttoher members, Jennifer Corcoran of My Super Connector, shares her wisdom about all things Twitter!

Becoming a social media rockstar doesn’t just “happen”; you need to really work at it. But if you fancy a bit of a shortcut, there are some simple things you can do to accelerate your rise to social media rockstardom. Read on…

1 – Use Power Words. Power words help you stand out from the millions of other tweets sent every day. They evoke a human reaction such as happiness, sadness or anger, so use these power words in your tweets and prepare to stand out! (Just tap the phrase into Google if you’d like some examples). Don’t think you’re limited to existing headlines you’ve used for blog posts. Mix things up by creating different power word-rich headlines to get people to engage with your content.  For example, “25 Ways to Get Noticed on LinkedIn” could become.  “Top LinkedIn Tips”, “25 Top Tips for LinkedIn Visibility”, or “25 Ways to Drive Your Career on LinkedIn”.  The link to the blog remains the same but by editing the text around it you maximise its impact and potential click-through rate.

2 – Create tweets that stand out from the rest by anchoring them to your values. What are your values? What do you stand for? What are your top 10 values? Collaboration, honesty and learning all form a part of my personal brand. Import your chosen values into your content and prepare to stand out. You can then create consistency around these themes.

3 – Create a content calendar to encourage consistency. Use a spreadsheet and a free tool like Hootsuite and schedule 4 tweets or more a day.  You can then implement consistent themes such as motivational post, blog post, or a quick tip. Consistency is a big driver of engagement, so expect to see results fast! Hashtags that align with working weekdays are popular and help you structure your content. #mondaymotivation #tuesdaytips, #wednesdaywisdom, #thursdaythoughts or #TBT (Throwback Thursday), #fridayfeeling and #FF.

4 – Engage with influencers. Who are the influencers in your industry? Engage with them by reading their blog posts or watching their video and telling them how much you enjoyed it and what you learned.  When they respond and like or retweet it, your message will get more exposure to their audience and elevate your positioning in the marketplace. Evoke the law of reciprocity – like and retweet industry influencers’ tweets and add a comment saying “Great content, make sure you check it out” or “love your blog / video, keep up the great tips”. Share the love and the love will come back to you!

5 – Participate in Twitter chats. They’re a terrific way to engage with like-minded people. Lasting for 30 minutes or a full hour, Twitter chats involve people getting together on a certain day and time to discuss a specific topic and use a specific hashtag. A Google search will help you find Twitter chats in your industry on a topic relevant to your audience, or check out http://tweetreports.com/Twitter-chat-schedule/ Others in the chat will respond and like, retweet your content and give you more engagement. People will also start to know, like and trust you if you show up regularly to tweet chats, then once you’ve built up a following you can create your own Twitter chat.

6 – Use correct hashtags – hashtags are to Twitter as keywords are to Google. For best results, use only two hashtags at the end of tweets. ritetag.com can help you find the right hashtags with minimal effort; you can use a free version and sign in with Twitter. It will help you find good, great and overused hashtags. Make sure you use the great ‘hot’ hashtags; lots of people search for them, so they’re a good way to get more engagement.

7 – Respond to notifications and you’ll turbo charge your engagement. Take the time to respond to people who like, retweet, add you to lists and engage in conversations; you’ll get more reach by engaging in conversations. The human touch pays dividends! If someone liked one of your posts why not tweet them with “glad you liked my blog – what was your biggest takeaway?” to start a conversation. If you are the one asking questions, you are driving the conversation and may be able to guide people down the sales funnel if they are a good fit.  Take the chat offline if you have a service which may help them.

8 – Leverage peak hours. 11am – 1pm is the most popular time for tweets, but do consider your audience’s time-zone. Also try some tweets between 8-11pm. There are some great tweet chats going on during these hours! Check out audiense.com for some more information on this.

9 – Ask genuine questions. Treat people the same way as you would offline and engage in a human way. You’ll build rapport and trust, and gain respect. Ask questions – what brings you here? What are you trying to achieve? Simply put, just ask the questions you’d ask in real life. People like to talk about themselves so give them the opportunity and don’t force them into your sales funnel. You can reach out via Direct Message if you don’t want to do it in the feed.

10 – Use images to ramp up your engagement. Well-chosen images are proven to increase engagement by an amazing 313%.  What’s more, you can tag up to 10 people in each image, giving you the chance to amplify your engagement even more.  If you want to create your own images check out canva.com – I mention this site a lot and that’s because it’s invaluable for social media!

 

There you have it. A Smörgåsbord of choices to go interstellar with your Twitter engagement and have fun while you’re doing it. I’d love to know how you get on, tweet me at @superconnector to let me know!

You can read more about My Super Connector and get in touch with Jennifer on the #connecttoher directory here.

Asking For More Money At Work by Joanne Eve

0

The second video in our Coaching Hub series by Joanne Eve focuses on asking for more money at work. It’s often a difficult path to tread and one that people don’t often have the confidence to follow.

Asking for and receiving more money at work is really a simple equation. Add enough value to your organisation that it would cost them more to replace you than to pay you the extra. If they refuse, find out how you need to improve, how you need to up-skill or what action you need to take to be able to receive a pay rise and then act on this information. It’s a win-win situation.

Watch Joanne’s video and get the confidence you need to ask!

Too Busy To Market Your Small Business? Here Are 6 Tips To Get Some Focus…

0
Small Business
When you focus, you get results. Distraction is the enemy of productivity!
By Karan Hopper, Kameleon Marketing – Marketing Consultant for small businesses.

 

RED_5646As a female small business owner, fighting to make a difference and grow your business (whilst probably juggling husbands, partners, kids and a ton of housework) undoubtedly marketing features fairly high on your list of priorities. But, with time a precious commodity for us working women sometimes it helps to have an idea of where to start on certain tasks. You may have previous experience in marketing, or have never even attempted it before.

So, where do you begin? What should the focus be? This is a question I get asked a lot – especially by my female clients who are trying to fit it in to an already hectic schedule.

To help you get the most out of your marketing, here are six small business marketing tips to get you focused:

1. Get blogging and focus on quality content

A steady stream of relevant and helpful content will engage your audience and significantly help your search engine ranking. You might already have a blog but how frequently are you updating it? What tips and insights are you offering your readers (and potential customers) which might help them solve a particular problem? Get your content right and the traffic – and conversions – will follow. And don’t forget to promote them on social media too

2. Think mobile

More and more content is being accessed via mobile than desktop PC – especially on commutes, school runs, waiting in queues – we want to fill every moment…and so we browse! Research has found that there is little or no gap in UK users accessing websites from a mobile or desktop. Google also released similar findings. So, whatever you do online, think mobile. Make things easy to access, click on, submit and read on a mobile.

3. Email marketing

It’s easy to dismiss this as an option because of the perception that it is no longer relevant or will just be viewed as spam. Actually, the complete opposite is true. Email marketing is one of the most successful strategies available. The key to success is to make sure that the content is helpful and valuable, that it’s clear and that you are not seen to be spouting sales pitches at every opportunity. This isn’t about you, it’s about your customers. Give them what they need and you will drive engagement organically.

4. Combine data and knowledge

There is a trend right now to become more data-driven and use analytics to inform all sorts of business decisions. While having data is no bad thing (see point six below), small organisations don’t tend to have high-end sophisticated data sets to use – but you don’t need it. Just be a little bit informed about your customers, their behaviour, what they like and don’t like. Use the data to enhance, verify or dispute existing knowledge and insights that you have. Use the Deliver, Learn, Refine process to get better all the time.

5. Lights, camera, action!

Research suggests that video content generates 41% more web traffic than non-users of video. Almost 80% of small-business owners who have used video have said that it has had a positive impact on their business. The trend in increased video usage is only expected to continue. Camera-shy? Don’t worry, animation works just as well too and it needn’t cost a fortune. There are many websites which can help you do this or you can even use a freelancer to do it. In fact why not check out the #connecttoher directory and see if anyone can help!

6. Get better at listening to your social feeds

Most businesses today have a social media presence. In most cases small businesses are great at responding to customers, posting updates, sharing useful insights and so forth. But, if you’re not using the analytics the sites can offer you, you may be missing out on valuable information that can help inform your business and marketing strategy.

If you haven’t already, get going on your marketing! If you are already working on some things, try something new. Be confident, make time for marketing and grow!

 

 

Cultivating Confidence by Joanne Eve

0

As part of our Coaching Hub and the first in a series of life coaching videos produced exclusively for Genderbuzz and #connecttoher members, Joanne Eve discusses “cultivating confidence”.

Watch it now and get confident!

Is it Time to Beat a Hasty Retreat? by Jenny Garrett

0
Happenista

New York Times Best Selling Author Barbara de Angelis said Women need moments of solitude to balance how much of themselves they giveaway.

Do you agree? When was the last time you had some quality me time? I don’t mean falling asleep in front of the TV after having a glass of wine, but real me time when you are permitted to indulge in thinking only about you, your wishes, dreams and goals.

I had a conversation with a coaching client recently who found it really to think about herself during our session. All she could consider was how any decision she made would impact her family; she had lost sight of her wants and needs completely.

Now I am not advocating narcissistic navel gazing for the sake of it or neglecting those you care about, but once in a while an opportunity to reflect, renew and revitalise is important.

Many of my clients are the main earner in their home and if they become unwell or stop performing at their best at work it will have a dire impact for their families. When we look at it from that perspective me time then becomes a necessity not a nice to have.

So how do you do it, well one option is to attend a retreat. When you think retreats you may think of: eating vegan, yoga and chanting. Earlier this year I designed a retreat to help women rediscover themselves, renew and plan for their future, which was more about enjoyment than abstinence. Here’s what I found:

  1. Reinforcement

A group of different women came together from a variety of backgrounds, with one thing in common to support each other through a transformative experience. The atmosphere that was created on the retreat meant that they could reach out to each other and supportively challenge each others thinking. A real sisterhood was created and continues via accountability groups and a secret online group.

2. Renew

Space was designed into the weekend to relax and recharge, whether that be over delicious meals or meditative walks through the grounds. Precious time without the usual demands of life meant that the women could prioritorise themselves for a change, which was really appreciated and much needed.

  1. Retreat

You could quite easily be busy 24/7, especially with smart phones keeping you connected to work. But a little thinking time can go a long way. The thinking space helped the women to think strategically, gain new perspectives and their goals and commitment to action to achieve those goals flowed easily as a result.

To view video highlights and find out more about my next retreat click here.

Happenista Retreat

Jenny Garrett is an Award Winning Coach with over 11 years experience of running a global business. She is a Freeman of the Guild of Entrepreneurs – City of London and was listed in Brummell Magazines Top 30 City Innovators 2016.

Her mission is to transform the world for everyone, one empowered woman at a time. She use’s her years of experience in coaching and leadership to inspire and motivate people, working with them to deliver career and life changing results beyond expectation.

I CAN Get Job Satisfaction by Joanne Eve

0
Joanne Eve Coaching

Welcome to the 1st of Joanne Eve’s Monthly coaching corners. We are thrilled to have Joanne on board sharing her wisdom and coaching expertise with you – our outstanding female entrepreneurial community. This month, Joanne is sharing a coaching session with us about Job satisfaction and how we can all go about getting ourselves some! I’ll have some of that … let’s get started Jo!

 

I can get job satisfaction

How happy are you at work?

Rate your overall contentment on a scale of 0-10, zero being “nothing feels good about it right now” and ten being “I absolutely wouldn’t change a thing”.

Obviously all jobs have their ups and downs but working in a job, being in a role or working for an organisation which is consistently out of alignment with your values can create a feeling of discord, unhappiness, restlessness or de-motivation.*

When you find yourself dreading going to work or when work is negatively impacting your mood, relationships, motivation and energy on a regular basis, it might be time to re-assess your life values so you can make a change in the right direction.

Satisfaction, happiness and contentment can be linked directly to creating and living a life which aligns with your values and priorities, and these may change evolve at each life stage.

Values are the things you hold important in life. Our values make us unique. They are what make one person a great firefighter and another more suited to being a teacher, a lawyer, electrician, writer, a botanist or an Olympic athlete… Some people are influenced and motivated by a sense of contribution and meaning. Others require security, creativity, autonomy or power. Other values include honesty, integrity, safety, order, belonging, respect and reward, and the list goes on…

Without necessarily being conscious of it we are drawn to roles and situations which match our life values.

There is hardly ever one perfect job for life. The reality is that things change over time. We change, organisations change, the economy changes, our lives change, relationships change, circumstances change, our needs change, our motivational drivers change, our values change.

And that’ OK. The challenge is in recognising it’s time for a change and making an informed decision on what to do next for the best.

Here’s are some examples:

Without realising it, Karen values order, trust and respect and is also motivated by security and autonomy. She trained hard to become an accountant, enjoys her job and has worked for the last 5 years in a small yet established firm with prospects of becoming a partner. Unexpectedly, the owner is taken sick and the company is enveloped by a large accountancy firm. Karen inherits a Managing Director who doesn’t seems to acknowledge her opinions and ideas like her old boss did and wants to micromanage her work.  As you can imagine, Karen feels unhappy, powerless and frustrated.

Integrity, authenticity and ambition have always been important to Emma who has worked her way up through the ranks to become Head of Marketing for a major fashion retailer. Since having her first baby and taking time off for maternity leave, Emma is now feeling demotivated and distracted back at work. Her priorities have changed. She is less interested in buying high fashion for herself as a significant portion of her and her partner’s income is now spent on childcare and baby needs. As well, she is struggling to find the energy and motivation she used to have to attend all the after-hours events that are expected in the role. Emma feels conflicted because she wants to give the same commitment to the job but doesn’t have the same passion for the brand that she used to. She feels guilty missing her baby’s bedtime when she has to work late. She doesn’t want to lose her marketing skills and enjoys the creativity and the social interaction she gets through her role.

As a life coach, one of the first things I would suggest to both Karen and Emma is that they evaluate their current life values. An easy way to do this is to take a list of commonly held values and to cross the unimportant and not so important ones off the list until you get to your top 10 values. Some of your values will remain static over the years and others will change, influenced by your age and life experiences.

If you rated your own contentment at work as 6/10 or less, then try checking your values against your current job situation.

Gaining clarity on your top ten values can help you to see where you are living out of alignment and can make it easier to see where to take positive action.

In Karen’s case, if she evaluates her values and can see then identify the lack of respect and loss of job security as the issues, it may motivate her to actively seek a new company with supportive management and offering the security she desires. Alternatively, she may decide to communicate to her boss what her values and needs are so that a solution may be reached.  She may even decide to relax her need for security and set up her own business which will give her the autonomy she desires and potentially, better security in the long term.

An option for Emma may be to find a way to combine her fashion and marketing skills by moving away from high fashion adults clothing to a children’s clothing retailer. She may even consider planning and setting up her own online maternity and baby fashion store, which can be started from home. She might decide on a complete change of career direction, take a part-time role or go to full time parenting for a while. Understanding her current values will help her make a better decision on what is right for her and her family right now.

By taking time to learn about and understand yourself you can design the life that matches your unique personal attributes. In this case, aligning your work with your values can really help with overall happiness, success and contentment in a significant area of your life.

* If you are experiencing feelings of anxiety or symptoms of depression, please seek professional medical advice.

Joanne Eve runs an online life coaching business, S♥ul Success: a feeling of contentment that you are living the life you want.

Let’s TALK MONEY because MONEY TALKS

0
Moneytalks
Don't be embarrassed to talk about money - it puts a value on your hard earned skills

In the first of her 2- part Blog, Equal pay expert Michelle Gyimah, talks to Genderbuzz® about what you can do to ensure you’re getting paid fairly for your skills and talents and how your actions can have a direct effect on the gender pay gap. Let’s talk money!

It’s time to get comfortable talking about money  

Talking about money can be an emotional issue for many women and as a result it can be difficult to discuss the topic in a rational way. But it may be that your reluctance to talk about it can feed into the very real gender pay gap. Let’s think about some of the messages YOU may have heard about women and money:

“You can’t be happy and rich.” 

Yep, by the time you’re old enough to start making your own financial decisions you’ve soaked up years of negative money stories, and it’s a narrative that you carry into your adult life. And, without even realising it, you may be sabotaging your efforts to earn and keep your own money. In the workplace this can manifest in different ways;

  • Not asking for pay rises,
  • Not pursuing equal pay claims,
  • Accepting small pay rises, and taking on more responsibilities with no/little extra pay
  • Not actively managing your retirement savings/pension plan

What’s stopping you negotiating for a pay rise? 

Much has been talked about women negotiating for pay so what’s stopping us? Well, negotiating pay is often viewed as hard or embarrassing and as a result many women do not do it. In addition, women tend to believe that they will be paid what they are worth and that this ‘worth’ will be recognised and fairly determined by others, and not by themselves. In contrast, men do not take this approach, not because they necessarily find it easier to negotiate pay or are better at the actual negotiation, but because they are willing to risk the embarrassment and uneasiness to get themselves that promotion or pay rise.  As a result, the gender pay gap is maintained.

Here at Equalitypays.co.uk, we are all about helping you tackle this reluctance to talk about  money and have designed a workshop called ‘The Money Revelation’ in which we break down the ideas and barriers you might have about money. In our workshop, we help you identify your money blocks and teach you the techniques you need to negotiate for better pay.

Ok, what else can I do to get comfortable talking about money? 

If you thinking ‘This gender pay gap thing is much bigger than me’ you’d be right, but that doesn’t mean that you have to let it just happen to you. So where can you start?

You can start at the beginning – with your starting salary. Think back to when you applied for your job. Was there a fixed salary or was there a ‘wage bracket’ or ‘salary band’? When there’s a salary band we say, pitch to the higher end of that band. Given that we know that, in general, women do not negotiate for as much money as men, going for the higher end of the advertised salary band, may well get you onto a more equal footing with your male colleagues from the get-go! Remember- no interviewer is going to TELL you to ask for more money so the ball is firmly in YOUR court!

Does it really matter, it’s only a few thousand pounds? 

Well, the pay gap may only be a few thousand pounds at the outset of your career but let’s look at the statistics over a working lifetime:

If your starting salary is £24,000 and a male employee starts at the same post on £28,000 due to his good negotiating skills, you will miss out on average of £150,000 over a 30- year career. This figure excludes pension contributions, missed promotion opportunities and time out for family responsibilities.  So yes, it really DOES matter, and our advice to you is that the next time you interview for a new job, don’t play small, push hard and NEGOTIATE. The financial implications for your future are just too big to ignore if you don’t.

Let's talk money
Michelle Gyimah, Equal Pay Expert

Michelle Gyimah is a Gender Equality Consultant with over 10 years’ experience of working on equality issues in the workplace. Michelle runs her own company working with technology firms and technology teams to build inclusive business cultures which attract and retain more Women in Tech.  Website: www.equalitypays.co.uk

 

Michelle is back next week for Part 2 of ‘Let’s talk Money’ when she’ll be talking about what Employers can do to help solve the U.K. gender pay gap.

 

Amelia Gould-Leading the way for Female Engineers

0
Female Engineers
Amelia Gould, Head of Engineering, BAE Systems

Amelia Gould is Head of Engineering at BAE Systems, Combat systems and a former Officer in the Royal Navy. Today, she talks to Genderbuzz® about her life as an Engineer and how she hopes to inspire the next generation of Female Engineers with her achievements. 

Amelia, describe a typical day for you as Head of Engineering at BAE Systems

My team and I are responsible for looking after the 800 engineers we have in the business, making sure that they are suitability qualified and capable, managing their careers, defining engineering policy and processes and providing governance for all project engineering activities.

Typically, I spend most of my days talking to people and doing reviews. We continually look for ways to improve the way we do engineering, so I spend most of time gathering ideas from others and trying to work out how to implement them. We do a lot of problem solving in teams, but my favourite days are filled with Design Reviews when I get to hear about all the great products we are developing and make sure that they will meet customers’ needs.

Have you always wanted to be an Engineer and what was it that sparked your interest in Engineering?

I actually wanted to be an astronaut, but the Space industry was shrinking when I left school, and my dad said I needed to find a “real job”! My Physics teacher suggested engineering and I did a 3 day “introduction to engineering for girls” course at Brunel University. We spent the time building towers out of spaghetti and tinkering with things. I loved it and was totally hooked!

I have never regretted that decision.

How were you encouraged at school to study Maths and Sciences to prepare for your career in Engineering?

I didn’t really need encouragement. I always loved Maths and Sciences and loved finding out what made the world the way it is. I have always been curious and luckily had some great teachers who allowed me to explore these subjects. My Physic’s teacher was amazing, and even spent some of his free time teaching me astronomy!

You were an Officer in the Royal Navy and served in Iraq, what was the most important quality you developed during that time?

Resilience. I learnt to keep pushing myself so that I could pass all the training I was put through. I was constantly tested and stretched as a young officer, learning a lot about myself, my abilities and limits.   This still stands me in good stead and I think that knowing when to push yourself and when to ask for help from someone else is key to not getting stressed by a situation.

You have been spearheading an initiative to make Portsmouth Dockyards a better working environment for women. How you have done that and how have things changed for women in this typically male environment as a result?

I have been focusing on the simple things – making the working environment more welcoming and inclusive. I facilitated a STEM Networking Session for all our women in STEM roles, which focused on understanding their issues and how things could be made better. I then made sure we followed up the ideas, steadily changing the culture.

You launched a Women into Science and Engineering (WISE)  People like me’ pilot scheme for BAE systems in Portsmouth, what IMPACT is that having?

The People Like Me Campaign material is due to be launched in 2017. I am really looking forward to taking it to some local schools and running some more People Like Me workshops. However the process has already enabled us to re-explore the language we use when engaging with school children and making our job adverts attractive to both male and female applicants.

You recently won an Award for Gender Diversity at the Inaugural ‘Women in Defence Awards’, describe how that felt and what it means to you

It felt amazing! I was so humbled to be nominated and stunned to actually win. It felt strange to win an award for something I was just doing because it was important to me.

What are your career plans in 2017 and what do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months?

I have just started my current role, so being as effective as possible in this role is my main aim. This will of course include ensuring that the benefits that diversity brings to teams and projects is appreciated and used throughout our engineering teams. In 2017, I also hope to continue with the work I have been doing to improve diversity in the business and engage with more young girls in local schools to encourage them into engineering, just as I was encouraged.

Do you have any advice for women Engineering graduates who want to pursue a career in Engineering?

Yes! My advice would be to try to do an internship or work experience placement to figure out where you would like to take your career as a first step. Keep an open mind, there are far more options out there than you could believe and don’t be afraid to stretch yourself – you are more able than you think.

My final piece of advice would is – Stick with it, it’s an amazing, varied and rewarding career.

Do you think you might be interested in a career in Engineering? Then go to the WISE website today and find out how you can enjoy a career as satisfying and interesting as Amelia’s and be a Female engineering leader of the future!

 

How images shape your ideas about gender

genderstereotypes
Images are powerful - be careful what they're telling you!

Whether you like it or not, images shape your ideas about gender

Images shape your ideas about gender; just try doing a Google image search on masculine and ‘feminine. The image results are strikingly different, reflecting society’s perception of gender. We’re all influenced by a wide variety of factors: family, school, peer groups and of course the media. The media and particularly social media, is now an integral part of your everyday life and is increasingly dominated by images not words. Think Instagram, YouTube and Facebook; TV, films and billboards. These images are everywhere and are extremely persuasive. They can and do influence your perceptions and decisions, which in turn shape and drive your attitudes and actions.

Research shows that your visual memory is encoded in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, which is the same place that your emotions are processed. Therefore, visual stimuli and emotional reactions are easily linked, and together, the two form your memories. These images are then stored in your long-term memory where they’re easy to recollect. This means, that when you see the same or similar visual again, you’ll have an associated emotional response. It’s these feelings, no matter how subtle, that affect how you react and behave – why? – because most of your decisions are based on emotions and intuitive judgement, influencing your process of rational thinking.

How exactly do images influence your behaviour?

Images of women in the media influence our ideas about gender
Images of women in the media influence our ideas about gender

When you look at this image of a woman, what kind of words immediately spring to mind and what type of behaviours do you associate with those words? Everything about this image is designed to intentionally tell you something. So what does the soft focus, lighting, environment, clothing, body language and facial expression say to you about this woman? Does it trigger a memory reminding you of a direct or indirect experience with its associated emotional response? I’m guessing it does, right? Although the memories associated with this style of female imagery are more likely to be ones you’ve seen via social media, magazines, TV or films, rather than through direct personal experience, this makes them no less powerful or crucially, influential.

Now take a look at the images of these two men and go through the same process as you did with the picture of the woman. Which image are you more familiar and comfortable with? Be honest with yourself.

Images shape your ideas about genderImages shape your ideas about gender

First impressions count

Consider the types of adverts, films, magazines and social media with women and men who look similar to this. What are the men and women like? What do they do and say? What is their role and what are they promoting? You will make judgements and assumptions based on these. Judgements about the values, interests, intellect, abilities of these women and men. They may be unreliable and false, but they are judgements nonetheless. And every time you see a similar image, those judgements and assumptions, with their associated feelings, surface in your mind. Because from an early age you’re constantly exposed to this style of female and male imagery, these feelings are repeatedly reinforced and this is how gender stereotypes, via images and associated words are formed. Images shape your ideas about gender, whether you like it or not.

Warning! DON’T think outside the box!

Gender image associations are so embedded in our minds that they’re part of our culture’s collective consciousness. So when women and men don’t behave according to perceived norms of feminine and masculine, created by images, your brain struggles to make sense of it and says to you, ‘something’s wrong!’. In an attempt to make sense of it, labels are created. Women are labelled ‘butch’ or their sexuality is questioned, while men are labelled ‘metrosexual’ or told to ‘man up’. This leads to us to maintaining gender specific behaviour, holding the belief that men must act one way and women another. These beliefs are like unwritten ‘rules’, based on embedded images and anything outside of them just doesn’t fit.

And we’re not just speaking about abstract theories here, the danger is that these image associations, feelings and responses are also applied to the people you meet. Like it or not, judgments based on appearance, including gender, play a powerful role in how we treat others, and how we get treated, and that can lead to negative outcomes. The problem is you’re unlikely to be aware of this.

The role of the media in imagery  

“Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture” Allen Ginsberg (American Poet 1926 – 1997) We all make judgements based on images and advertisers and media outlets know this. They understand the power of images to affect our feelings and influence how we respond. A good example of advertisers using gender images to influence us, is the 2016 Autumn/Winter campaign for global retailer H&M. They said their campaign ‘aimed to redefine the meaning of being ladylike’. How did they set about doing this? – By presenting us with new images of gender. Their adverts deliberately featured unconventional models behaving in unconventional ways, including a woman displaying her hairy armpits as she relaxes on a bed. This campaign attracted so much attention, that it was even debated on Sky News. Why? – Because it challenged our gender perception norms. You can read about the campaign here

Unfortunately H&M are in the minority in challenging gender norms and most media formats continue to use images that perpetuate society’s overriding, embedded perceptions about gender, and there’s plenty of work to do to ‘un-embed’ them. But it’s not all doom and gloom because despite the media’s global dominance, we all have the opportunity to affect change in this area.

YOU can make a difference by trying this…

Wouldn’t you like to be more aware of the impact of what you’re visually digesting every day? With 90% of information transmitted to the brain being visual and images processed 60,000x faster than text, can you afford to discount the power of images to influence your perception of gender? Start by noticing images all around you; then tune in to your feelings and the word associations you have with those images. Consider how these words are influencing your subsequent attitude and behaviour. With your increased awareness, you can choose to make a real difference in the way you interact with the next person you meet.

Images shape your ideas about gender
Andréa Watts, Imagery Expert & Founder of UnglueYou®

At UnglueYou® we understand the power of images and we use them as a tool to help you uncover and understand ways of seeing and thinking that affect your emotions and influence your behaviour. In partnership with Genderbuzz® we will shortly be launching an exciting new workshop to help you understand how images reinforce gender stereotyping and share techniques to change that. Watch this space for details!