We have undertaken a statistical analysis, going back over three years, to investigate the impact of gender on pay and employment across a range of production departments in the UK film industry.
James Brown's number one hit, 'It's a Man's, Man's, Man's
World', was released in 1966 at a time of social change, when
women's liberation was high on the agenda. Today, through a
combination of social change and Government legislation (Government
Equalities Office, 2010), opportunities in the workplace are meant
to be more equal. In this article we look at the importance gender
plays on pay and employment in the UK film industry and ask whether
or not it remains 'a man's world'.
Over the last 25 years Sargent-Disc has provided payroll services to all of the major Hollywood studios and many of the UK's leading production companies and broadcasters. In order to answer the question of gender equality in our industry we decided to undertake a statistical analysis, going back over the last three years, to look at the representation and remuneration of men and women across a range of production departments.
To help visualise the statistical data produced we have created an interactive graphic showing the breakdown of average median pay by gender for the industry as a whole, and by department, for each year between 2008 and 2010. The data visualisation shows quite clearly that a gender employment gap still exists. Adding up the total number of men and women in employment between 2008 and 2010 we see women have made up less than one third of the total workforce; increasing only slightly from 31% in 2008 to 32% by 2010.
The lyrics from James Brown's song were written as an observation of life in 60's America. In one verse James Brown sings 'You see, man made the cars to take us over the road' and 'Man made electric light to take us out of the dark'. Both observations remain valid in 2010 with 95% of the Transport Department and over 99% of the Lighting Department being male. Women are also significantly under-represented in Construction and Props.
There are a number of departments where women are well-represented and also some where women make up a significant majority. There is a bias towards women in Accounts and in the Production Office where only 40% of the workforce was male in 2008. A few departments stand out as being mostly female; in particular, Hair & Make-Up and Costume, which was 83% female in 2010.
Taking a look at earnings, our figures show that the median contractual pay in increased from £1,000 per week in 2008 to £1,222 in 2010. These figures compare favourably with the UK as a whole where median gross weekly earnings were only £499 (BBC, 2010). However, it is important to note when making a comparison like this that most crew are freelance and that they will not be employed for the whole year.
In the last verse, James Brown sings 'And after man has made everything, everything he can, You know that man makes money to buy from other man'. Our figures suggest that male earnings are still higher than female. In fact, the average median pay gap between men and women working in film was 15% in 2010. Interestingly, whilst salaries remained unchanged for men as the UK entered recession in 2009, salaries for women actually went down. This lends some weight to a March 2009 Fawcett report (Dr Katherine Rake, 2009), highlighted by Women in Film (Women in Film), which warns that women could bear the brunt of any recession in the wider economy.
Our detailed analysis shows that even in departments where women are in the majority, it is not always reflected in their pay. Most notably, in 2010, men working in the Costume Department were paid 14% more than women and in Hair & Make-Up men earned 33% more on average. By contrast, for women working in Accounts, pay is more equal and in 2010 the average median salary for women in the Production Office was 41% higher than for men.
There are many successful women working in the UK film industry at the very highest level (Groskop, 2009) (UK Film Council, 2010) and in nearly every grade across the industry. However, women remain under-represented in many areas and are often paid less than their male counterparts. Latest figures from the office of national statistics show that, in the UK as a whole, the gender pay gap narrowed to 10% last year. However, despite changes in legislation and a changed social landscape, salaries in the film industry remain 15% lower for women.
It is interesting to note that whilst some might find the lyrics to 'It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World' somewhat chauvinistic, James Brown was right when he sang 'This is a man's world, this is a man's world, But it wouldn't be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl' as the song might never have been a success were it not for one woman, Betty Jean Newsome, credited with writing the lyrics.
BBC. (2010). Pay gap between men and women narrows, says ONS. Retrieved 12 08, 2010, from www.bbc.co.uk
Dr Katherine Rake, O. R. (2009, 03). Are women bearing the burden of the recession. Retrieved from Fawcett Society: www.fawcettsociety.org.uk
Government Equalities Office. (2010). Equality Act 2010. Retrieved 12 09, 2010, from www.equalities.gov.uk
Groskop, V. (2009, May 20). Wanted: female film-makers. Retrieved from www.guardian.co.uk
UK Film Council. (2010). The gender of writers and directors of UK films. Retrieved from UK Film Council: www.ukfilmcouncil.com
Women in Film. (n.d.). Women in Film: Reports & Stats. Retrieved 12 21, 2010, from Women in Film: www.wftv.org.uk