You may have seen this title recently, asking if a major UK brands new advertising campaign is the "most diverse".
If you have the sort of enquiring mind many deadlies do, you may have found yourself wondering "well, is it? How would we measure that? Can we science this?"
The problem of measuring things that are basically ideas or experiences is a major one in social science. It's relatively easy to say if something's an apple or an orange, or even how many people prefer apples to oranges. But how do we measure how much they like them? Or what type of apple is the most apple-y in its qualities, or what orange is the tastiest or the most orange-y? Some things are more experiential than objective.
Diversity is not the most objective idea in the world; everyone has their personal take on it. How do we define what counts as diverse? Classically in the UK, statutory and charitable organisations, or tech companies who care about this stuff, do it by producing statistics on demographics. Numbers of people who identify with various genders, ethnicities, disabilities, ages, etc.
This being fashion of course, what matters is what's visible, so on the upside, we don't need to survey people, we can just work from their publically available imagery. Which is a relief, because if I was taking into account most fashion companies writing about diversity, I'd have to score them as nul point, largely on the basis of almost laughably bad tokenism, and ill-conceived versions of body positivity. On the downside, working from brand imagery is a huge job, and we're clearly going to have to include "size" as a diversity variable and that will involve plenty of arguments because photographs do a bad job of accurately reflecting someone's size, what with largely obscuring peoples heights and generally mucking about with your perception. Plus, it's lots of pictures, even if we decided to only take a few brands from each sector to test out how diverse the industry is.
All of which means basically, I am looking for some help! If you're a fashion, business, contour or social science student and you want an intern job over the summer . . . I am basically asking for folks to look at lingerie and fashion imagery FOR SCIENCE. We can talk sampling, operationalisation of variables, and why pie charts are almost always the wrong way to represent results. It'll be fun! It'll be a bloody good project for your CV. And we can write it up in a variety of ways to get seen by plenty of people, so if you want to change your google footprint from drunk night out pictures to serious business, this would very much help.
So if you're into this stuff and have a break from uni this Summer, please do get in touch! Email email@example.com. If you've got a methodological viewpoint, or a science point, or want to know what the heck I am on about, leave a comment or a question below!