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Women in the spotlight: will they ever be equal?

Women in the spotlight: will they ever be equal?

By Anna Trevelyan

A recent online market research poll conducted for International Women’s Day revealed that most people in Britain think that it will take 10 years or more before there are equal numbers of men and women in key professions. One of those key professions is the media and entertainment industry.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that big award ceremonies (such as the Kids Choice Awards on 12th March) show women in an equal light to men – with categories such as Favourite Female Singer and Favourite Movie Actress. Though some critics argue that simply separating the categories contributes to gender bias, by implying that women and men cannot compete in the same bracket, and despite Amy Poehler’s admirable Ask Her More campaign we all know that many journalists will be more interested in how the female nominees look than the work that they have done to get there. Gina Davis, (who has started her own foundation to improve the balance of gender in the media industry: http://seejane.org) also spoke openly about gender bias after recent research revealed that there are 3 male characters for every 1 speaking female in most films. She said "we are in effect [encouraging] kids from the very beginning to see women and girls as not taking up half of the space."

Sadly it’s not just the performers who may suffer from gender bias, but those behind the camera as well. Recent surveys showed that 75% of crews on blockbuster films are male, leading to key members of the industry to call for measures to improve diversity. In the music industry, there has been a conscious drive since 2014 to call for stronger female representation; yet still only 14% of the Performing Rights Society members are female, only 3 solo females have ever won the Mercury Music Prize and less than 5% of recognised producers are female. Singer/Songwriter Jesca Hoop famously said that “unlike a man [a woman] is never simply and gloriously a musician. She is a ‘female guitar player’ or ‘a female drummer’. Her gender precedes her.” This way of thinking, market research and critics suggest, is what continues to undermine an artist’s place in the wider industry.

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