What Magazine Covers Are Doing Wrong

If you're one to read the power lists in the likes of Forbes Magazine and Business Insider, you've probably noticed a trend: there's a lack of women who make the cut. But as it turns out, magazines have been consistently using photos of one of the few women included for the stories' lead and cover images, as Allie Jones at The Wire point out. Sneaky.

Business Insider used this trick this week for their Tech Power List, "The 100 Most Influential Tech People On Twitter." While there were only 14 women on this list, surprise, surprise, the magazine chose Wall Street Journal reporter Evelyn Rusli's photo as the lead image for the story.

Here's a sampling of magazines' past power list visuals:

Fortune: 40 Under 40 in Business

October 2013

Number of women on list: 16 out of 40

Katia Beauchamp's ranking: 31

Business Insider: The 100 Most Influential Tech People on Twitter

April 2014

Number of women on list: 14 out of 100

Evelyn Rusli's ranking: 33

Vanity Fair: The New Establishment List

September 2011

Number of women on list: 7 out of 50

Lady Gaga's ranking: 9

Putting a woman on the cover is pretty effective, not only because it gives the illusion of diversity in these power listings, but also because it gives editors the excuse to pick someone who, yes, is halfway down the list, but might be much more attractive than whoever is at #1.

Ultimately, using these photos is masking the lack of women on these lists. So what's the solution? Well, these magazines need to rework their conception of "power" to make sure they include more diversity, including in terms of gender. But it also comes down to the ways in which women are held back from becoming powerful in the first place — that infamous glass ceiling, which, research shows, is an integral part of the corporate world. It's high time we shake things up and get some power lists that aren't so hard to swallow.

Images: Fortune, Business Insider, Vanity Fair