M or W: the main insights of creative industries today

Economic participation and opportunities for women, their political influence and civic engagement - these are complicated and unsolved gender issues. The British Council and PPV Knowledge conducted a study among four countries to understand how it is going on in cultural and creative industries, which stereotypes are common and how people successfully fight them.

This is what they found out.

  • The gender imbalance in employment is most striking and visible across sub-sectors, with the cultural industries dominated by women and the creative industries by men;
  • The cultural and creative industries are infested with gender-biased linguistic and mental constructs, such as breadwinner, male job / female job (мужская работа/женская работа), an artist should be hungry, greenhouse environment (тепличные условия) for girls, iron balls (железные яйца), artistic female muses, mommy’s boys (маменькины сынки), naked woman poster (плакат с голой бабой).
  • Women have more chances to join culture-related sectors because they are not expected to earn as much money as men. Men tend to combine artwork with something else to earn money as they are viewed as the main breadwinners;
  • Childcare and homecare in general is a significant obstacle for women to achieve success in the creative sector;
  • Leadership positions in both business-related and culture related sectors are more likely taken by men, there are difficulties for women to occupy traditional male roles or to promote innovative ideas because of the mistrust in their professional skills and abilities;
  • Physical and intellectual abilities are often understood as different for different sexes by leaders and contributors to the creative and cultural industries which indicates the low level of gender awareness in the sector in general.

Fighting these stereotypes is difficult, but real. And there is a piece of evidence. For example, Evgenia Gubkina, who works at the Urban forms center, proved this.

"At the architecture university, to design like a girl meant bad. Professors could say, “You have a girly drawing” to a boy or a girl, and it was the worst you could ever be told. And from the very first year I was like a boy, as if being a girl was something you should be ashamed of.

Then other girls and I organized a series of talks about women who were cool architects. We wanted to show to ourselves and to the others how great they were. We started from just collecting success stories and images. We had a joke that men are not allowed to come. It was a kind of game for us back then, and we liked it. But now, after I have been professionally researching women in architecture for many years and organizing the Modernistki [female Modernists] conference, I understand why in such a hierarchical profession it is difficult when a male architect takes part in a discussion. Probably for a while, women architects should have space to communicate on their own. 

Now I am organizing the Modernistki International Conference on gender issues in art, architecture and urban planning. Also I am working with young girls who are studying architecture. We want to give them what is missing at the university: the social sensitivity of an architect. They say that if you want to establish democracy, you should work with architects because they create the environment we live in. Architects define how society will be organized in space. Architecture is about relationships between people, not about buildings". 


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