Fewer than one in five lead news pictures published across eight major news titles are shot by a female photographer, according to Women Photograph, an organisation that works to empower female and non-binary visual storytellers.

To tackle the lack of female voices, Getty Images launched new projects that raise awareness around gender balance and representation in photojournalism and documentary photography.

One of them is the $10,000 Women Photograph Grant that will "support an ongoing documentary project from a professional photojournalist who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to their story," states the website.

United States of America v Netherlands : Final - 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France (Photo by Catherine Ivill - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

"The photography worldwide doesn't reflect on the wide variety of human experience," said Jay Davies, director of photography (EMEA), Getty Images.

"That is why it is important to ensure that diversity of the professional photography industry reflects the population at large."

Panchmalco, El Salvador-May 2016: Women of the community carry the Virgin Mary on their backs on a procession through the town of Panchimalco. The annual Palms Festival features a procession of the Virgin Mary through the town's narrow streets and attracts people from all over the country as well as internationally who come to idolise her. (Photo: Nadia Shira Cohen – Getty Images)

Photojournalism remains a heavily male-dominated industry that is notoriously hard to break into, especially for women.

However, Davies explained that female photojournalists often have the possibility to access women's intimate spaces that male journalists would find challenging to get to. Lynsey Addario, for example, often documents changing attitudes towards female independence in Saudi Arabia in a way that would be hardly possible for a male counterpart.

Another reason why diversity in photojournalism matters is that a personal connection around gender or ethnic identity can open more doors when photographing a subject.

A portrait of a young woman looking to the side (Photo by Sophie Mayanne – Getty Images/Dove #ShowUs)

To help him discover the variety of visual stories out there and go beyond the standard narratives, Davies is proactively seeking photography from as many diverse sources as possible. This can mean hours spent sifting through the latest work from Getty's existing team of photographers to cruising Instagram and keeping tabs on emerging talents.

Davies is also monitoring what Getty's customers are commissioning to spot new photographers, especially in regions like the Middle East and Africa, to broaden the diversity of voices.

A bold muslim woman (Photo by Darah Ghanem – Getty Images/Dove #ShowUs)

The lack of women photographers is not the only obstacle to better gender representation - tackling the traditional female beauty norms is just as important to bring a variety of human experiences into the spotlight.

To help publishers access visuals of real-life women, Getty Images created a library of 5000+ photographs that show female-identifying and non-binary individuals without any retouching. Project #ShowUS saw 116 photographers from 39 countries photographing 179 real women to show an authentic vision of female beauty.

Are you passionate about diversity and how it can help audience growth? Join us at Newsrewired on 27 November 2019 to find out more.

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