iStock reveals older women are almost non-existent in visuals used by UK brands and businesses

by | Mar 8, 2023

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This International Women’s Day, iStock, a leading e-commerce platform providing premium visual content to SMBs, SMEs, creatives and students everywhere, has revealed that only 12% of its top visuals downloaded in the UK feature senior women and when mature women are represented, they are depicted within limiting stereotypes, most commonly shown as carers or being cared for. 

iStock’s VisualGPS Insights interactive tool, which allows customers to identify trends by analysing the images and videos most used by brands and companies in the UK, additionally shows that UK brands and businesses opt for images and videos of younger women to depict ‘female leader’, while mature women are sidelined in visuals representing the corporate world. 

According to VisualGPS, age is the most commonly experienced bias for older women in the UK, with almost two in five female Baby Boomers (37%) feeling discriminated against due to their age. Older women also cite experiencing additional biases such as body shape and size, disability and gender. 
“Women have significant buying power, yet our consumer research is telling us that women still do not feel authentically portrayed in advertising,” comments Jacqueline Bourke, Director and Head of Creative Insights EMEA at iStock. “By using authentic, representative visuals UK brands and businesses can engage this audience more effectively and move them to action.” 


Below, Jacqueline Bourke provides three key tips for marketeers to authentically engage and connect with women during International Women’s Day and beyond: 

Senior women are leading teams and businesses – let’s see them 

British women in their 40s, 50s and 60s play a vital role in the UK’s workforce yet they still feel underrepresented within this visual theme in marketing communications. To show the skills and experience of older women, consider selecting images and videos in which women of these ages are shown within a variety of professional settings exhibiting leadership or other expertise. 


Destigmatise women’s health 

Women’s reproductive health is still less seen in visual storytelling, and iStock customer data indicates that less than 1% of mature women are represented with menopause symptoms. When they are depicted, women are rarely shown outside the home and usually depicted in isolation. Consider choosing visuals that show support and empathy for women experiencing pre-menopause and menopause both in and outside clinical settings. 

Break stereotypes around senior women 


iStock customer data shows that senior women are mostly visualised as being cared for in medical scenarios, despite leading active and varied lives. To move away from the older woman archetype, instead depict women aged 60+ leading active and social lives, and assuming leadership roles in a professional setting.   

For images and videos that authentically depict mature women, visit 


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