Women are gaining space in the creative economy, but the places they occupy continue to be more informal, with lower hierarchy and salary than men.
The assigned roles reflect the gap. The areas with the greatest participation are makeup and hairdressing, clothing and production, while, according to data from the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts (Incaa), in areas such as electricity and lighting and machinery operation they represent between 7 and 2%. of the total.
Jessica Flores is part of that meager 2%. She started working as a lighting technician 20 years ago, and today she is a camera director and operator in a television channel. “At first, I perceived resistance from some colleagues, but others supported me,” she told PROFILE. “Over time I was demonstrating my capabilities and that was changing.”
According to a report prepared by the consultancy Medio Mundo, the NGO Women in Publicity and Círculo de Creativas Argentina, we are far from parity. In these spaces “the floors are still sticky and the glass ceilings.” Of the figures, perhaps the most striking is that, although women have a participation of 41.6%, only 2.7% reach top leadership positions.
Flores also worked on short films and trained in lighting, camera, photography, film, television, and theater. In many of those courses he noticed the difference. “When I told the trainers that she was directing on the floor and outside they were amazed, she was the only woman in the group,” she said.
In his case, he made his way: “I had the courage and the will to cheer myself up when the opportunity presented itself.”
The theater group “Entramadas, mujeres por una poetica propia” was also born with that intention. Its members take care of everything from directing to lighting the works they present. “We were shocked to realize that, both in the areas of production and technical and poetic research, with some exceptions, the voice that shaped us was that of men,” Valeria Fernández, part of the company, told PROFILE.
“Until now we continue to create under this premise of occupying all areas,” he said.
According to a report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in addition to low wages, labor flexibility and multiple jobs are also characteristic of female participation in the creative industry. The study indicates that, in countries such as Argentina and Brazil, the salary differences between men and women in this category are higher than average. In Argentina, the gap is 22.9% at a general level, while in the creative sector it is 27.8%.
Belén Bagarolo works as a sound engineer on fiction and reality shows. When she started her career over ten years ago she was one of the only women in technical areas. “There were many women, but it was always the same: the makeup artist, the costume designer,” she assured PERFIL. Little by little, women were covering more positions “because a quota had to be filled and the unions began to work on that.”
For the IDB, compared to other countries in the region, in Argentina there is a lower rate of informality in the creative sector. “Although it could be due to higher levels of unionization, it is a hypothesis that requires investigation,” they say in their report.
They also highlight that “there are still deeply rooted inequalities in practices, beliefs and stereotypes.”
“On set you realized that there was a strong presence of men telling me where to stand, what to do,” Bagarolo said.
Thus, to the inequalities in the monetary recognition of tasks is also added the lack of professional recognition.
“There are many men in this environment and that is why it is also very varied. It would be unfair to say that it was like this with everyone,” Bagarolo clarified. Although things have changed in recent years, “if you are a woman you always have to give a little more to prove it.”
Opening up spaces historically occupied by men has the potential to bring about change in the creative industry. The Incaa Audiovisual Observatory points out in its most recent report that “the direction of each narrative decides the course that the story will tell.”
The story is told from all spaces. “Occupying places assigned to men, especially in relation to the technical assembly of the shows, opened up possibilities for development,” said Fernández. “It was a learning leap that brought us freedom,” he summarized.
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