Towards a Union of Equality
The European Union (EU) Gender Equality Strategy seeks significant progress towards a gender-equal Europe by 2025. The Strategy presents policy objectives and actions to deliver on the commitment of the von der Leyen Commission to achieve a Union of Equality.
All citizens, regardless of their sex, gender identity and expression, sex characteristics, sexual identity; racial or ethnic origin, age, religion or belief and any disability, must be able to pursue their chosen path in life and have equal opportunities to thrive, participate and lead.
Gender Inequality in the cultural and creative sector
Intersectional gender gaps persist in almost all cultural and creative sectors, with individuals experiencing discrimination based on their gender, other personal characteristics and identities.
The available data shows that female artists and cultural professionals across the EU typically have less access to creation and production resources, are paid much less than men and are underrepresented in leadership and other decision-making positions, as well as on the art market. Women are frequently victims of sexism, gender stereotypes and sexual harassment.
In France, for example, women constitute 52% of all Performing Arts students. However, they comprise only 31% of practicing artists, 11% of programmed artists and hold only 18% of managerial positions in these sectors. Since 1980, only 4 – 12% of art awards have been granted to women.
Furthermore, just 23% of projects supported by public funds in France are led by women. Women with the same competences or job earn on average 27% less than male artists (source: ‘Inégalités entre les femmes et les hommes dans les arts et la culture’, Haut Conseil à l’Égalité, 2018).
Music: In Europe, women represent 20% or less of registered composers and songwriters and, on average, earn 30% less than men working within the sector (source: ‘Women in Music’, 2019).
Theatre: In Ireland, women are underrepresented in every theatre role studied, with the exception of costume designers. Only 28% of script authors, 9% of sound designers and 37% of directors are women. (source: Research commissioned by #WakingtheFeminists, 2017).
Circus: In Spain, the employment of women is notably reduced in companies that are economically stronger. 80% of artists on stage are men, versus 20% women. Show directors are nearly all men (source: Research by the Associació de Professionals de Circ de Catalunya (APCC), 2019).
Visual arts: In 2017, artwork by female artists represented only 3 – 5% of major permanent collections in Europe and the United States (USA). At the same time, only 13.7% of living artists represented by galleries in Europe and North America are women (source: the National Museum of Women in the Arts (USA), 2019).
More data is needed regarding gender inequalities faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQI) persons across the EU.
Tackling the gender gap
It is important to acknowledge and tackle the disparities caused by a gender gap in the cultural and creative sectors through targeted policy measures. The 2019-2022 Work Plan for Culture recognizes that gender equality is a pillar of cultural diversity and has a key role to play in challenging stereotypes and promoting societal change.
The Work Plan recommends two actions to tackle gender gaps in the cultural and creative sectors in the EU:
Mapping the situation of female artists and cultural professionals
Convening the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) expert group to exchange experiences, good practices and to formulate recommendations
The Commission has financed an EU-wide study on gender gaps in the cultural and creative sectors. The study analyses the specific challenges faced by women and provides recommendations to support policymaking addressing these issues.
In addition, the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) expert group on gender equality has been working since autumn 2019 to suggest a set of policy recommendations and actions in response to these challenges under the new Creative Europe programme.
In 2019, the Commission launched the ‘Women on the move’ day to discuss the issue of gender balance in the cultural and creative sectors. In follow-up to this, the Commission published an overview of good practices from the audio-visual industry to be replicated across Member States.
The issue of gender balance in the cultural and creative sectors was also discussed in 2019 between the Commission and cultural and creative sectors stakeholders as part of the ‘Voices of culture’ structured dialogue, which gathered 36 sector representatives from across the EU.
Creative Europe Projects
Several projects promoting gender equality have received co-funding under the Creative Europe programme, including a flagship initiative in the music sector – the Keychange project.
Keychange is an international campaign that encourages music festivals, orchestras, conservatoires, broadcasters, concert halls, agents, record labels and music organisations to pledge their commitment to achieving a 50:50 gender balance by 2022.
The new Creative Europe programme foresees strengthening the role of gender equality across beneficiary projects.