“It’s What Women Do”: Female Leadership at Ripple Effect Images

In my Jepson summer internship at Ripple Effect Images, one theory of leadership that has stood out to me is the concept of Gender & Leadership, explained mostly by Eagly and Carly. Ripple Effect Images is a media organization focused on sharing the stories of women and children around the world in order to empower them and to help aid organizations provide ethical and effective solutions. With female empowerment as a main focus in their outward goals, Ripple also extends this value into the internal leadership elements of the organization. It was started by Annie Griffiths and a few of her female friends, and today the team is still a strong majority women. Both the Executive Producer and Executive Director of the organization are women, as are most of the organization’s contracted photographers and filmmakers. There are also men on the executive team, but overall, the organization seems to have a leadership style that fits with Eagly and Carly’s description of women in leadership.

They describe women’s leadership style as generally more participative, interpersonally-oriented, and transformational (specifically individual consideration) than men’s (more authoritative, task-oriented, and transactional leadership). Within the category of transactional leadership, women tend to use more contingent reward, and men tend to use more active and passive management-by-exception and laissez-faire styles.

In my personal conception of Ripple Effect, these generalizations about female leadership are very accurate. In my experience, the organization is hugely based around relationships and is very interpersonally-oriented in community values and participative in workflow itself. Even as an intern, I have been able to participate in meetings and I have witnessed the collaborative feedback that takes place in these settings. Also, I have seen transformational leadership at play in the relationship I have with my boss, and how she uses the company’s mission to drive my dedication to the work. Additionally, Ripple’s photographers have a generous and very inclusive relationship with the organization, where all photos are shared with no necessary relicensing, making it possible for their work to go further towards Ripple’s mission. In Annie’s words (unprovoked, might I add), the organization is very female in its leadership style as well: “I think of it as a very female structure–based on sharing and working together–it’s what women do. It’s important to me that these are people who have a record of kindness, respect, and are dedicated to the communities we serve.”