On May 16th, 1929, we witnessed the first-ever Oscars ceremony - where creatives from Directors, to Producers, Actors, Actresses and behind-the-scenes superstars had the opportunity to win the award of a lifetime. Over the past 94 years, only seven women have been nominated for Directors in Oscars history - producing only three winners, with the first woman winning in 2009, a mere 14 years ago.
This is an unsurprising statistic about the reality of gender inequality in the creative industry - and this isn’t even taking into account every sphere where creatives are.
The arts and creative industries are still a battleground when it comes to gender equality. Women who work in these sectors also suffer from the same evils that affect female professionals in other sectors of the economy, whether this is limited participation in decision-making positions through to just having fewer opportunities for continuous training, not to mention the blatant gender pay gap.
We’re going to break down some core reasons for this as well as what leaders, business owners and fellow creatives can do to close this gap and promote better gender equality across the creative and arts sectors.
Let’s have a quick chat about nepotism…
If you’ve spent any time on TikTok over the course of fashion week (Gen Z’s, we’re looking at you) - then you’ll see a barrage of opinions and call-outs for the “nepo babies” who are cruising the runways and doing a pretty bad job at it.
Lila Moss (Kate Moss’ daughter), Iris Law (Jude Law’s daughter) and even the Hadid sisters all cruise the runways of the biggest fashion houses due to their family status - not necessarily because of their modelling talent.
Although this is a win for the women when looking at gender inequality, the issues of nepotism are unfortunately still rooted in gender bias due to the larger issue surrounding the number of male creatives in the space:
“Nepotism is a form of bias that can be based on classism, colourist, gender inequality or the like. It also pertains to the potency of a person’s social network. That is to say, if a person possesses highly influential contacts and associates, they are more likely to receive favouritism and special treatment than someone that does not. Hence, a lot of creative sector professionals argue that a person’s success in the creative industries is highly dependent on who they know in those industries.” - Voicemag
The issue isn’t men - the issue is that there isn’t a space created for women
It can be very easy to point the finger and blame gender inequality on men - which is a completely misinformed and dated view of gender inequality as a whole. The issue is that gender inequality in the creative sector is so systemic - that women have to create spaces for themselves to even exist.
The only way to start creating meaningful change is for systems to change and initiatives to be created to encourage more and more women to join (and stay) in the creative industry.
What can you do as a hiring manager/leader/business owner in the creative space?
You won’t be able to make a change overnight, but there are some things that you can do to encourage and uplift women in the creative space:
Ensure that your benefits and progression structures are gender-neutral.
Barriers to entry (and retaining women in your organisation) can be impacted by your progression plan as well as how accommodating your working environment is for women.
Do you offer equal maternity and paternity leave? Do you support women returning to work after having a child? Do you support women through menopause?
Equally, do you offer equal opportunities to the men within your organisation? Do you have career paths that are suited to both genders? These are all important questions that you must ask yourself.
Gender-neutral job descriptions
Looking at your job descriptions and making them gender-neutral can help you to attract a more balanced gender ratio when hiring. See our blog on this here.
Use data to improve your hiring
Finally, data is king! You won’t know if you’re improving on your gender inequality by looking around the office and counting the number of women there - it runs much deeper than this. Measure who is applying, who are you interviewing, who are you hiring and who you are retaining!