Westminster Business School is delighted to be welcoming award-winning international photographer Nancy Honey who will speak about her landmark project: 100 Leading Ladies.
Award-winning photographer Nancy Honey
Nancy, originally from the US, has lived and worked in the UK since the seventies. In common with all her projects, 100 Leading Ladies – portraits of and interviews with influential senior women in Britain – blends the personal with the political. “My work was always about people, and has always been about myself as a woman, and my development as a woman and how that related to all women – hopefully! Because, in my opinion, all interesting work by artists is, at the same time, universal and personal.”
100 British women leaders
Over the course of two years, Nancy photographed 100 of Britain’s most respected women over the age of 55; from academics to entrepreneurs, fashion designers to composers. These women all share one thing in common: they are leading figures in their fields and have defied gender stereotypes.
The photographs have now been collected into a book, where each portrait is complemented by an insightful interview conducted by journalist Hattie Garlick.
Honey invited each woman to select a place of inspiration for their portrait setting, affording the viewer further insight into the lives, personalities and character of these impressive women.
Setting herself a challenge
Nancy didn’t start by planning to photograph 100 powerful, high-achieving women. Originally there was no number attached:
“I started working on the project, and sending out the proposal to people. And then, after I’d done about 20, I thought, well… I want women from all walks of life. Why not make it 100? I was challenging myself, thinking wouldn’t it be great to pick a really large number so that nobody could say ‘oh well, this is only the ideas of a few’.”
“100 sounded like a nice even number,” she laughs. “And I really painted myself into the biggest corner I’ve ever painted myself into. The sheer volume increased the difficulties. Can you imagine how many women I had to write to find 100 who could make room in their busy schedules?”
Involving men, childcare and culture change
It became clear to Nancy as she proceeded with her project that, no matter how high-achieving a woman was, she would still have the same issues to deal with as the rest of us.
“Childcare is, I think, one of the biggest issues facing not just women, but men AND women in the future. Of all the issues everyone is talking about that promote the advancement of women, this is going to be the hardest and the most obstinate, and has the most strands to pick apart.”
Photographing stay-at-home dads
To explore this more fully, Nancy has embarked on her next project – photographing and interviewing stay-at-home dads. “I thought it would be interesting to look at it from the other side. And, the more I get involved, the more I realise how important it is to represent men, and to bring them into the conversation about the advancement of women.
Because it’s not just about women. It’s about changing the whole of our culture to make it more equal. For that to happen, everything needs to be shared more. We need to restructure our society without gender roles that are inherited from long ago. To do that, we need to involve men in the conversation.”
Do women make better leaders?
As the title suggests, 100 Leading Ladies is about leadership. “I think a lot of what’s important in today’s leadership, which may be different from the past, is that it’s now more about joining into groups and forwarding and facilitating the different opinions that group members express, rather than being single-minded and dictatorial. In my opinion, women are better at doing that and it may be that, in today’s world, they make better leaders.”
Nancy is looking for men who would like to participate in her new, stay-at-home dads project. Please email her firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be involved.
And all 100 of Nancy’s photographs will be exhibited at the Cartwright Hall Museum and Art Gallery in Bradford, Yorkshire from 5 December 2015 until 10 April 2016.
Nancy Honey Recommends…
… public policy expert Anne-Marie Slaughter’s TED Talk on how and why shifts in work culture, public policy and social mores can increase equality
5 essential women in leadership resources
It’s Time for a New Discussion on “Women in Leadership” – Avivah Wittenberg-Cox in Forbes
Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers – Herminia Ibarra, Robin J. Ely and Deborah M. Kolb in Harvard Business Review
The Most Undervalued Leadership Traits Of Women – Glenn Llopis in Forbes