Since 2013, the Observatory for Gender Equality in Culture and Communication has measured the place of women in cultural professions. The 2023 edition provides an update on progress…and what remains to be done.

For the second time in a row, equality between women and men has been recognized as a “great national cause” by the President of the Republic for the duration of this five-year period. As part of its active policy to combat gender and gender inequalities and discrimination and its commitment to prevent and combat sexual and sexist violence and harassment, the Ministry of Culture has set up a system, the Observatory on Gender Equality in Culture and Communication which allows an objective analysis of gender inequalities in the cultural sector.

Published every year on the occasion of International Women’s Day, it presents figures on the share of women in administration, cultural institutions, and in all the sectors that make up the cultural field: heritage, artistic creation, show, cinema, audiovisual, book, press, media… Overview of this eleventh edition.

More women in senior positions

La directrice du musée du Louvre Laurence des Cars.

The data from this new edition highlights the progress of women in positions of responsibility with, in 2022, 23 women out of 42 new appointments at the head of cultural institutions within the scope of the ministry. « These appointments are key to breaking the glass ceiling and creating more women candidates in the future, welcomes Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak. A source of inspiration and an echo of the debates of our society, culture must set an example! I welcome the significant progress made towards a more just place for women in the cultural sectors, but the road to full equality requires redoubling efforts. »

Several figures are increasing. That of women at the head of public institutions of culture (41% to 1er January 2023 versus 30% in 2017), national drama centres (42% versus 27% in 2019) and cultural affairs directors (44% versus 35% in 2019). Women are even the majority in the management of national museums (68%), public audiovisual companies (60%) and in the commissions of exhibitions of national interest (69%).

The famous “glass ceiling” is harder to break in large companies since out of the top 100 in the cultural sectors (in terms of turnover in 2019), 14% of women are in positions of president, general management or management as of January 1, 2023. a figure that even falls to 9% in the book and press sector. The Observatory shows the need to intensify these efforts in national centres of musical creation, national choreographic centres, operas and contemporary music scenes.

Majority in schools, minority in the labour market

Since the creation of theObservatory, the same trend is observed each year: women are the majority in higher education for culture, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the workforce in 2021-2022. The heritage (82%) and plastic arts (69%) sectors are the most feminized.

This majority presence should guarantee a large and competent pool to ensure equal succession in all sectors. However, this is not true in the labour market since women remain a small minority in cultural professions, where they make up 45% of the workforce in 2019. This is particularly the case among architects and photographers (38% in 2019 despite a share that has more than doubled in twenty years), in performing professions (34%) and plastic artists (41%). In contrast, women are still the majority among art teachers (61%), translators (75%) and documentation and preservation professions (74%).

Less visible female works

Le Centre Pompidou rend hommage a la sculptrice Germaine Richier.

Despite progress in women’s access to the means of creation, production and dissemination, women’s works remain less acquired and less programmed than men’s. An example in the live performance and dance sector, where women produce an average of 41% of the performances scheduled in 2022-23 and only a quarter of the 2,060 opera performances during the 2022-23 season are directed by a woman. The same is true in the film sector, where three-quarters of films were made by men in 2021, a share that has been evolving very slowly over the past decade, and only 7% of women are in animation. Finally, in the plastic arts, parity is achieved or almost achieved in acquisitions of works made by women: 52% in 2021 by the National Fund for Contemporary Art, 42% by regional funds for contemporary art.

The average amount of aid granted is often unequal and lower for women. In all the performing arts disciplines, 36% of the winning teams are led by women, but they receive only 27% of the total amounts. The situation is better for women whose share of applications for support for creation and literary translation is 53% in 2022, but the average amount per aid allocated is 15% lower than that of men. In the film sector, in 2021, 41% of the fifty-eight projects benefiting from the advance on CNC revenues were carried out by women. But 2022 is doubly different, with the smallest difference in the last 20 years between the estimates for films made by women and those made by men (-21.3%, compared to -48.2% in 2021) and posting an average quote for films strictly made by women at the highest level of the decade.

Fewer and fewer award-winning women

La mezzo-soprano Marina Viotti, lauréate de la Victoire de la musique classique dans la catégorie artiste lyrique de l'année le 1er mars dernier.

The Observatory also highlights the lack of awards given to women’s works, especially in the cinema. Since 1976, only 8% of César-winning films have been directed by women. Another international example: only 3% of the Cannes Film Festival’s awards went to women and only one Palme d'Or in fifty years!

The situation is also unfavourable for women for music: 10% of female artists awarded the Victoires de la musique for best album since 1985. In the field of photography, although over-represented at the beginning of their careers, women only capture 32% of iconic photography prices from 2012 to 2019, although this figure rises to 50% last year.

The situation is improving in classical music - where women represent more than a third of the winners - and in theatre with 40% of directors selected or awarded in the Molières. The book is another area where equality with well-represented women is being approached among the winners of the major literary awards (52% of women from 2020 to 2022). On the other hand, juries and jury chairs for these awards remain predominantly male in 2022 – 71% excluding the Femina Award.