Reducing Inequality in European Performing Arts
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Warwick
Unit of AssessmentBusiness and Management Studies
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services: Business and Management
Studies In Human Society: Other Studies In Human Society
Summary of the impact
The research conducted by Dr Deborah Dean provided the first reliable
benchmark study of how age and gender affects the employment realities of
professional performers across Europe. The research has influenced the
practices of professional bodies, resulting in trade union organisations
changing their codes of practice and introducing new measures designed to
address age and gender inequality. The research provided a concrete
resource for international performers' unions to use in employer
negotiations and contributed to political debate and led to a House of
Commons Early Day motion on gender inequality in the arts. It also led to
the launch of an online petition receiving over 10,000 public signatures,
and triggered the creation and implementation of the EU Sectoral Social
Dialogue Committee's Framework of Actions.
Age and gender in broadcasting and the performing arts have long been
recognised as contentious issues. Previous national-level data had
indicated the existence of a disadvantage for professional older women
performers (actors) in relation to their male peers. Before the
publication of Dean's research there was no evidence providing a
European-wide picture of any gender inequality issues in the performing
As a result of her expertise and previous research (2005, 2007) in the
area of gendered disadvantage within the performing arts, Dean was
commissioned in 2008 by the professional actors union, the International
Federation of Actors (FIA), as Principal Investigator of the study `Age,
Gender and Performer Employment in Europe', funded by FIA and the European
Commission. This was part of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for
All (2007). The study demonstrated for the first time a European-wide
picture of the degree to which female actors suffered systemic gender and
age inequality in their access to work, pay and career longevity. This
provided concrete evidence regarding the lack of equal opportunities on
the grounds of gender and age within the performing arts.
The research was based on an online questionnaire designed in four
languages led by Dean, with support from Dominick Luquer (FIA General
Secretary) and Dearbhal Murphy (FIA Deputy General Secretary), and
feedback from the FIA Gender Steering Group. The survey was the largest
and most comprehensive of its kind, distributed to male and female
unionised professional performers across Europe (within FIA affiliated
unions) and was completed by 2174 respondents in 23 countries. In
addition, European FIA (EuroFIA) union members carried out structured and
semi-structured interviews with gatekeepers such as agents and TV
The findings, published in the 2008 report `Age, Gender and Performer
Employment in Europe', showed that the professional experience and career
development of female performers shared wide systemic disadvantages
spanning across international borders. The research findings provided a
unique snapshot into the professional experience of performers in Europe.
They highlighted disadvantages in career development for female performers
in comparison to their male counterparts in relation to age and ethnicity.
Evidence showed that women's careers in television, film and theatre
lasted on average 11-15 years, whilst men enjoyed longer careers
(averaging 16-20 years). The research found that ethnicity and gender were
interrelated, affecting employment opportunities for minority ethnic
female performers. The study findings also identified inequalities in pay
and media representation of female performers, with women being
overrepresented in the lowest income group of performers (61 per cent
reportedly work infrequently with limited choice).
References to the research
1. Dean, D. (2008); `Age, Gender and Performer Employment in Europe'.
Report to European Commission and the International Federation of Actors
(FIA). Available at: http://www.fia-actors.com/uploads/ENGLISH.pdf.
Report provided to project sponsor.
2. Dean, D. (2008); `No Human Resource is an Island: Gendered, Racialized
Access to Work as a Performer', Gender, Work & Organization,
15 (2); pp. 1-21. Peer reviewed journal article.
3. Dean, D. (2007); `Performing Industrial Relations: The Centrality of
Gender in Regulation of Work in Theatre and Television', Industrial
Relations Journal, 38 (3), pp.252-268. Peer reviewed journal
4. Dean, D. (2005) `Recruiting a Self: Women Performers and Aesthetic
Labour', Work, Employment and Society, 19: 761-774. Peer
reviewed journal article.
1. Co-funded by the European Commission and The International Federation
of Actors (FIA). Awarded to Dr Deborah Dean. Total award £4,000 from
January 2008 to October 2008.
Details of the impact
The combined impact of the research has been to raise awareness and
influence agendas for reducing gender inequality in the performing arts
sector. It has provided an evidence base for trade unions to lobby for
better employment conditions, influenced change in EU policy, and
stimulated public debate around issues of gender inequality in the arts.
The findings of the research were communicated to audiences of
policy-makers, employers, employees and performers through a series of
events at UK and European level. Over 120 participants from Europe
attended a two day EuroFIA Gender Agenda conference in September 2008. The
final report launch event in the European Parliament in January 2009 was
hosted by the then Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Dublin
Constituency, and was attended by European politicians, employers,
performers and the wider media. Parallel communication events in seven
other European countries were also held at national levels. These events
generated international press and media coverage, provoking wider
discussion of the research findings. Press articles from across Europe
directly referenced Dean's research findings and helped to raise awareness
of inequality in the performing arts within the public domain.
Resulting from the media attention the report received, an online
petition was set up in February 2009 by UK trade union, Equity. The
petition called for urgent action by UK broadcasters to address the gender
imbalance and engaged members of the general public with the key research
findings. Over 10,000 signatures were received and the petition was used
in conjunction with the research report to confront programme
commissioners and arts funding bodies to act more positively in
consideration of their gender equality obligations under the Gender
Equality Duty of 2007. In addition, following the EuroFIA 2008 conference,
an Equity steering group was set up in response to Dean's research
engaging performers in discussions on performance opportunities for older
In October 2011, the EU Audio-visual Sectoral Dialogue Committee and its
European social partners approved and adopted `The Framework of Actions on
Gender Equality'. The Committee made explicit reference to Dean's research
and the research findings were used in the preparation of their action
framework to address gender equality, particularly the section on gender
portrayal. The General Secretary of Equity trade union has stated that
"employers within the performing arts are signing up, adopting the
Framework and, for the first time, are actively engaging in conversations
and actions to promote gender equality. This particularly benefits actors
in countries with traditionally weak industrial relations". The Framework
of Actions is also being used by European national social partners to
advocate gender equality in the workplace of audio-visual performers and
other workers within the sector. Within the UK, the underpinning research
and its findings were recognised by the Houses of Parliament and
influenced the proposal of a formal early day motion (no. 699 in 2008-09)
in 2009. The motion was signed by 48 MPs urging the Government,
broadcasters and producers to take note of Dean's research findings and to
take action to ensure equal opportunities for female performers, so that
the real lives of real women are reflected on stage and screen.
The research has also been adopted by performer trade unions as a
negotiation tool and in their efforts to influence future policies and
legislative actions in the European Parliament. The Deputy General
Secretary of FIA confirmed that the research received significant interest
from the international FIA members in North American, Latin American and
Africa and has been taken up in different European groups. All FIA
regional groups have been involved in discussions on gender equality,
which was previously not the case. This resulted in two key impacts that
were triggered by Dean's research: (1) the development of the Good
Practice Handbook; and (2) the re-launch of the FIA Charter. Dean's
research findings were taken up by FIA and became the underpinning
influence that shaped the creation of the organisation's `Handbook of Good
Practice', published July 2010. The Handbook outlined over 50 good
practices to promote gender equality in the performing arts and was
adopted by all FIA affiliated unions across 12 European countries. In
conjunction with Dean's research report, the Handbook formed an integral
part of FIA's activity in lobbying for EU legislative change combating sex
and gender discrimination within the performing arts, as there is
currently no EU legislation that specifically addresses the industry.
Dean's research impacted the internal polices and standards of
international performer trade unions (FIA) and UK unions. In September
2012 the FIA Congress redeveloped and passed the FIA Charter for Gender
Equality and Equal Opportunities committing over 100 FIA member
organisations in over 70 global countries to actively promote equality in
negotiations, contracts and collective agreement. Importantly, it
committed these unions to creating the conditions within their own
structures to encourage women members to play a full and active role. FIA
introduced statements committing the organisation to action for equality.
It was the first time the charter included important statements on
equality which had initially been completely absent from its constitution.
The findings also impacted the internal policy and practices of the UK
trade union Equity, and in 2012 resulted in modifications to the
organisation's rule book to include specific references promoting equality
within the organisation.
Sources to corroborate the impact
Evidence of Impact on the policy and practice standards amongst
representative bodies of professional performers:
General Secretary, Equity. The General Secretary can
corroborate claims that the research provided an important evidence base
and made a significant contribution to raising awareness of gender
equality issues within the performing arts industry and on the standards
and practices of Equity. She can testify to the impact on Equity's rule
book (source 5) and confirm the establishment of the Equity steering
group (by actresses Pauline Moran, Kate Buffery and Jean Rogers) in
response to the findings.
Equity online petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/24658.html.
This provides evidence that the research reached a wide general audience
and contributed to raising awareness, triggering collective action.
FIA Charter For Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities. This
document makes reference to the research key findings and evidences the
inclusion of language on gender equality. Available online: http://www.fia-actors.com/uploads/2010-Gender-Charter-EN.pdf
Equity Rule book (December 2012): This confirms changes to
codes within Equity's Rule Book (2012) issued to all 36,786 members with
the inclusion of new codes: [220.127.116.11]; [18.104.22.168] and [3.2.17]. Available
Evidence of Impact at UK Policy level:
House of Commons, February, 04 2009 Early Day Motion based on the
study was tabled in the House of Commons by Janet Anderson MP.
This is evidence of research significance being recognised by the UK
government and its impact in contributing to government debate. (http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2008-09/699)
Evidence of Impact at European and International Policy level:
Deputy General Secretary, International Federation of Actors
(FIA). The Deputy General Secretary can testify that the research
has influenced FIA's activity on a European and International level and
that it was a critical factor that contributed to FIA modifying its
Charter (source 4) to include specific reference to gender equality.
Handbook of Good Practices to Combat Gender Stereotypes and Promote
Equal Opportunities in Film, Television and Theatre in Europe (FIA)
(July 2010). Makes specific reference to the research being the
stimulus for the development of the good practice handbook "...the
report and research was necessary to raise awareness about the problem.
And it made it clear that we need to change the reality! We need to find
solutions. And we need to see what good practices we can learn from. The
result is the Handbook of Good Practices (p.6)". Online, from http://www.fia-actors.com/uploads/Engendering_EN.pdf.
European Commission (2011). EU Audiovisual Sectoral Social Dialogue
Committee Framework of Actions on Gender Equality. October, 2011, pp.
1-22. Evidence of the research influencing union and employer
commitment to encourage gender equality at European level. The Framework
of Actions was produced by the Joint Working Group on Gender Equality
chaired by Dearbhal Murphy (see reference 5 above for further
corroboration). Available online http://resourcecentre.etuc.org/spaw_uploads/files/AVSDC-FoA_Gender_Equality_EN.pdf
Evidence of impact on public consciousness and debate in relation to
the performing arts at UK and wider European Level:
List of press articles hosted on FIA website, (European coverage).
Evidence of the extensive press and media coverage the research received
and its international reach across European countries. Online, from http://www.fia-actors.com/en/news_815-0109-6021.html
Stage News press coverage (UK). The following links provide
evidence of research informing public audience of issues around gender
inequality in the performing arts through press media.
- `Majority of female performers believe gender works against them',
The Stage News, published Thursday, October 23, 2008,
- `MPs urged to take action over female performers' pay, The Stage
News, published Tuesday, January 29th, 2009, http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2009/01/mps-urged-to-take-action-over-http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2008/10/majority-of-female-performers-believe-gender-works-against-them/female-performers-pay/
- `Female actors get less pay and shorter careers', The Stage News
, Wednesday, December 3, 2008, http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2008/12/female-actors-get-less-pay-and-shorter-careers/