Diversity within the creative industry including class, culture and ethnicity have always been discussed, but in 2016 the inequality of the sexes is still a big issue. Different campaigns and groups are speaking up and empowering each other to improve the female demographic of the creative industry. During March two events focused on the diversity within the industries. One was a discussion with Sadiq Khan (Labour London Mayoral Candidate) and members of the Creative Industries Federation at one of London’s biggest galleries. The other was Girls I Rate, an all-female dinner on a yacht on the Thames – launching on International Women’s Day.
Girls I Rate was founded by Carla Marie Williams, a music entrepreneur with years of experience mentoring and song writing; her most recent song was Beyoncé and Naughty Boy’s 2015 hit “Running”. Determined to make a difference, Carla sees Girls I Rate as “bringing women together, I think it’s really important for women to start working together building a network for themselves. I want a female army, successful, talented and ambitious women that are driven. I really want a forge of women that are not scared of themselves and being heard.”
During the dinner many women boarded the yacht in celebration of unity and womanhood. Guests included Liz McClarnon (former Atomic Kitten) who sees the problem of gender inequality as “people believ[ing] it’s gotten better but it really hasn’t … It’s almost like we’re fighting a battle people believe we have already won.” We’re in 2016 and we still need to fight for women to be paid the same as men, for women to be given the same roles and opportunities of men. Presenter and journalist, Lizzie Cundy, said “I don’t think anyone should be looked down upon or paid less. If you’re good at your job, if you’re a woman, you should be paid the same as a man and appreciated the same as a man.”
Why do these issues still exist and what are some of the stereotypes that men still believe? Girl group Stooshe remembered when they were part of a record label and “it was manly men running the show, so they never got to know us personally or our personalities or what we wanted to do.” The idea that to this day women are still dictated to and directed based on what men may expect them to look like and what roles they expect them to be doing. Liz McClarnon also compared what it was like for her in the beginning and now – “When I was younger it was, ah look little woman she needs to do her make up, it was always the young girl thing. I wasn’t respected then and even now it’s a case of people thinking that I am over the hill because I am not this springy girl anymore”. Similarly, singer Kelle Bryan talked about her troubles transitioning from pop singer to CEO of Advocate Agency; when she was starting her business people would “have a snigger or a laugh, thinking what makes her think she can go from pop to business”
Girls I Rate aims to work together and build a network of women to encourage equal opportunities for females within the Creative Arts and break down assumptions within the creative industry. The Creative Industries Federation reported that in 2014 the female workforce within the creative industry was only 36.7%. Attitudes within the creative industries are stopping women from reaching their potential. Assistant Principal of King’s College London, Deborah Bull says that “women do rise quite high, but if you look around the big organisations there’s very few female leaders on the very top”
Girls I Rate are at the beginning, but already have a great collaboration of inspirational women. Some advice from the women include:
- Kanya King (Founder & CEO of MOBO Awards) – “Women need to support one another”
- Shanie Ryan (Presenter) – “Women shouldn’t have to sacrifice one thing to be successful in another, we should be able to have it all, and we can have it all. Maybe not at the same time, but we should be able to have it all.
- Preeya Kalidas (singer and actor) – “Go for it and do all that you can to learn, try and find a mentor within the industry that can help and guide you.”
- Zara Holland (Miss Great Britain 2015/16) – “be true to who you are, don’t follow someone else’s lead because you think they are better than you”
- Jorgie Porter (Hollyoaks actress) also talked about the best advice and reminders that she gets from her friends when she is down “you’re amazing stop it! You’ve got to party with your girls.”
The Creative Industries Federation discussion gave its members an opportunity to share their concerns, priorities and questions with Sadiq Khan; they had a similar discussion with Conservative London Mayoral Candidate Zac Goldsmith earlier in the month. Artist Deborah Mason highlighted that “The leading roles for men are the ones that are remembered…their great Lear, their great Macbeth, their great Hamlet, nobody cares if you did a great Juliet. We need to get away for that way of valuing things.” As a father of two girls, Sadiq Khan worries that his daughters will not be able to “have their potential fulfilled. I don’t want them to suffer harassment in the work place. When it comes to the jobs they want to do and aspire to do, they should be able to do whatever they want to do.” Part of his vision for the creative industries is to “encourage excite enthuse inspire young people to enter those [creative] industries”
To demonstrate the inequality within the industries Kenneth Tharp OBE (Chief Executive, The Place London) gave an example of research published about diversity in classical music whereby “in Sweden they did blind auditioning [and] the percentage of women rose by 25%” showing that in some cases women’s talent can be overlooked because of their gender. Tharp believes that gender inequality should be “as important to men as it is to women…we should all be restless and discontent until we have proper equality and diversity in all its forms.
With such a big focus of women across the globe and with the help of social media, 2016 looks like it will be the year of change when it comes to overcoming the inequalities of the sexes.