Someone once commented on a post I made about the lack of female creatives during a major sporting event that they felt like I was specifically looking for that so I could post about it instead of enjoying the event itself.
Here's the truth...I was specifically looking to see how many female creators I could pinpoint, but I was also enjoying the event I was watching.
There is a good reason I talk about this.
Although I applaud the recognition by the stations during the football games to those working on Thanksgiving day (control, cameras, etc.) it didn’t go unnoticed that of the two stations and the many people being celebrated, I believe there were a total of four women. Four.
"Sadly this is a very common statistic. Women photographers account for almost half of working photographers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021, however, that same representation does not translate into receiving equally paid opportunities, sponsorships, or visibility across the digital platforms. For example, the study found that a majority of recent photography graduates consisted of women, but they earn, on average, 40% less than their male counterparts. Similarly, it was found that less than 25% of the commercial photographers represented by the industry’s leading agents are female." (1)
In 2021, it was estimated that men outnumbered women 62.77 percent to 37.33. (2) While I think this statistic could be encouraging, it simply isn’t because we don't see that on the field of play, as evidenced by the above statistic, especially for those in the commercial and sports professional space.
Women Photograph, a non-profit that launched in 2017 to elevate the voices of women and nonbinary visual journalists (3), shows a stark look at the disappointing representation of female creatives' lead photos in the first half of 2023:
- New York Times - 27.8%
- SF Chronicle - 52.2%
- Wall Street Journal - 8.4%
- Globe and Mail - 12.2%
- Washington Post - 25.4%
- LA Times - 20%
- Le Monde - 15.4%
- The Guardian - 10.1%
Don't get me wrong, in the last five years there has been a small shift when it comes to seeing women with better opportunities in the creative space, but there is still work to do. Sadly, there are still many who feel women aren't qualified or technical enough to contribute. Disappointingly it's a very common occurrence to see Twitter/LinkedIn posts about the treatment of female creatives that, given we are in 2023, shouldn't be happening.
A few examples for you to think about:
- The most recent 10 posts by Imagn® are all men photographers.
- The Getty® year in review of photos and video had one woman and 10 men highlighted.
- Recent article reposts shared by AP® have images that are predominately male photographers.
- Articles posted by women for women included photographs mostly taken by men.
Bringing awareness to the issues in the creative space, whether it be female representation or income, has to be talked about. The more people think about it the more it becomes a common conversation. Talking about it is a catalyst to helping bring about change.
Read that sentence one more time. Talking about it is a catalyst to helping bring about change. It's time to talk about it and talk about it often.
Small, subtle shifts can start now. Here are some things that you can do to help create a better narrative of female creative support:
- Stand up for your women colleagues. I know there have been those who have overhead comments made to me but don't say anything. Be better than that. Don't support women with your words, support women with your actions.
- Ensure panels about women in sports are predominately women in sports.
- If you write articles/blogs/stories about female creatives, make sure images/videos referenced are predominately by women.
- If you're in a position to hire, make the effort by having an equal balance of women and men to interview.
- Remind yourself that women can photograph men's sports. Men primarily have been photographing women's sports for years.
I know there may be some bristling to these suggestions because we inherently don't like to be told we can be better. However, we both know there are more than enough qualified women to choose from. If we all make an effort on how we can better represent the female creative, we can create change.
I hope that someday I can go a whole year with a man commenting on how to do my job or making a degrading remark.
Sadly the fact is that comments like those I've heard, and countless other women in the professional space have heard, are never said to their male colleagues.
I have hopes it will change, I do.
I've heard the quote "Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent" often throughout my life. It's time to make the practice of this issue a permanent conversation until we see a dramatic shift in the space.
Mother Teresa was right about the small impact that can bring about something greater. Ripples are the instant effect of wind on water and they die down as quickly as they form, as the surface tension of the water dampens their efforts. If a wind blows steadily across a large enough patch of water for a few hours then the ripples become waves and these will not be dampened so easily. (4) If we all make the effort to create a ripple, the wave will be next. It's time for the wave.
Or maybe it's time for a Title IX for female creatives.
Image Courtesy of: