In the spotlight: Nicola Tree

Independent photographer Nicola Tree is working with two world-leading organisations to change the way we see women who work in the science and engineering sectors. Her work is part of a collection of photographs developed by Getty Images and the Lean In foundation over the past two years to challenge existing stereotypes and represent real men, women and families. We are thrilled to dedicate this blog post to Nicola, who has worked with IAND in the past, and her work on authentic photographic representation of female engineers.

By Nicola Tree: In 2015, Getty Images partnered with the Lean In foundation to create a new stream of images that would represent men, women and families today. As part of this, they wanted to move in a new direction and offer forward-thinking editors and commissioners an aspirational view of women, and open-up opportunities for photographers like me to show this. Traditionally, photographs of people working in sectors like science and engineering, have shown models rather than professionals in their workplace, and it can mean the end result lacks authenticity. So this was a new approach.

My first task was to reach out to the science and engineering community and the response was overwhelming. I was invited into universities, large companies and even into the government department for science. Every photo shoot was a steep learning curve – trying to capture the professions and working in constrained environments. Throughout the project, I had the opportunity to meet some amazingly talented women and hear some of their life and career stories. I was amazed by how humble the women are. All of them were taking part in this initiative to encourage others to consider a career in these sectors. They genuinely want to help other women to see science and engineering as an exciting career choice.

“I want to help people visualise what it’s like to be a scientist or engineer so young people don’t have to wonder if they can do it. They just know that they can.”

For my part, I felt a great responsibility to represent the women I photographed. We ensured that every detail of their work was technically correct. The photos are not staged. They are an accurate reflection of what people in these professions do. I also made sure the information that sits alongside the pictures in the image library is technically correct, so scientists searching through them will have a new, professional alternative to the photographs that have represented these professions until now.

One of the Lean In mottoes is “You can’t be it if you can’t see it” and my aim with the images was to build on this, and capture a wider variety of professions for the next generation. I want to help people visualise what it’s like to be a scientist or engineer so young people don’t have to wonder if they can do it. They just know that they can.’ You can find out more information on Nicola Tree on her website

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