22
Nov

CULTURAL INDUSTRIES AND EQUALITY

We have spoken considerably about the big names in the creative industry in general, and it is probably fair to say that, where such big names are concerned, the limelight is equally shared by men and women. Yet, whenever the latest report is out on who are the most bankable actors in Hollywood, the top ten is virtually always made of men. Julia Roberts, one of the most successful actresses of all times, caused quite a stir when, barely a few years ago, she became the highest paid female actor in Hollywood. The stir was not just the result of the fee per movie she could command, but it was the consequence of that fee being paid to a woman.

Traditionally, certain jobs have always belonged to one sex or the other: directors, screenwriters, classic musicians tend to be males, while dancers and vocalists tend to be females. But we can say without any doubt that changes have occurred in wider society with men more caring about their looks, some even going for treatment like laser hair removal and purchasing all the beauty products. But, what does this mean for the cultural industries?

The impression is that, when we look at cultural industries as a collective of businesses, it is very much similar to any other industry, with an employment and pay gap between men and women. This means that women are still not getting a fair share of the creative indus-tries’ pie: not only they are employed in lesser numbers than their male counterpart, but they are also paid much less when doing the same job. By the same token, women are also less likely to get to the top of the career ladder than men.

It is fair to say that this gap is becoming smaller (particularly where wages are concerned), but it is happening slowly; women still face getting the shorter end of the stick when they enter the workplace.

EQUALITY AND ETHNICITY

Ethnic minorities are underrepresented in cultural industries just as much as in any other industry. There is scope for improvement, but what seems to make the most difference is good qualifications or the lack of them. Again, the industry is short of creative women from ethnic minorities, although it is fair to say that cultural background seems to have a great relevance in the kind of job people tend to choose, or want to do. Which means that, sometimes, no matter how aggressive recruitment campaigns are, the response from eth-nic minorities might continue to be poor.

EQUALITY BEYOND GREAT BRITAIN

The statistics that have been mentioned so far are mainly referred to the UK.

Somehow it might look like it makes for grim reading, particularly in view of the fact that the UK has strict laws regulating the workplace and recruitment in general, and no discrimina-tion should ever take place.

No matter where you want to work as a creative, it is imperative that sufficient research goes into finding out about the country that will employ you. Different countries have differ-ent regulations: some have laws like in
the UK, but a lot of them might have near to noth-ing to advocate and support equality, other than the employer’s discretion and good will.

A lot of European countries have acts similar to the laws in the UK, promoting and support-ing equality across all private and public sectors, not just cultural industries.

For an idea of how all European countries compare, visit www.culturalpolicies.net.

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