Today is International Women's Day, marked world-wide to celebrate women, but also to stop and consider what obstacles continue to be placed in their way. Last week the International Trade Union Confederation published a massive study showing that women's lots are clearly not as equal as men's. They found that around the world women still earn, on average, 16 percent less than their male colleagues.
While the study doesn't single out particular industries, another new study shows that the arts industry is hardly an exception to this rule.
A study released Wednesday by Réalisatrices Équitables, a Quebec pressure group composed of women film and television directors whose main objective is equity for women directors in Quebec, reveals women directors are consistently awarded less money by Quebec and Canadian agencies which fund cultural businesses. For example, between 2005 and 2007, while women were accepted for 27 percent of projects at the Canadian Television Fund they were only granted 10 percent of the total funding distributed.
This kind of disparity is concerning on its own, but the study also raises questions of women simply being able to break into the industry.
While women make up between 43 to 45 percent of students in Quebec university television and film programs, they make up only 29 percent of the membership at the Association of Quebec Directors, which co-sponsored the study.
Solving this chronic underfunding and under-representation will be anything but easy, but the group points to some concrete steps to move in the right direction. This includes making female-male equity one of the stated goals for publicly funded arts industry granting agencies, as well as having these agencies keep track of gender-related statistics (i.e. the ratio of funding for women to men) and including these statistics in their annual reports. Perhaps most importantly, they are asking that further research be undertaken by the Quebec and Canadian governments into the exact obstacles that women are facing, a question too broad for such a small and recently founded group to undertake.