Who Works? Stick Figures, Gender, and Illustrating the Worforce

Written by

Lisa Wade, Ph.D.

One of our Pinterest boards collects images that reveal that men are the “neutral” sex in contemporary Western cultures. This means that (1)  the image that pops up in our minds when we say “person” or “human” or “worker” is usually implicitly male, (2) non-sexed representations of people are usually assumed to be male (e.g., cartoon animals appear female to us unless we slap on eyelashes and lipstick), (3) items for sale often get marketed as either “item” or “women’s item” (e.g., “deodorant” and “women’s deodorant”), and (4) men and male bodies get to stand in for humanity (e.g., in scientific research).

Instances of this phenomenon have been a fun series on the blog; we featured another one just this past weekend, on how (not) to write obituaries.  Then today SocImages Contributor Philip Cohen sent along another great example that we couldn’t resist sharing. The graphic below, released by Bloomberg Business Week, is meant to help us understand who is in and out of the labor force.  While 3% of Americans want to work but can’t find a job, large proportions are also permanently or temporarily out of work on purpose: they’re retired, in college, in the military, disabled, or a stay-at-home parent.


Read the full article in Sociological Images

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