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Gender Inequality in the Canadian Film & Television Sector Report by Adelaide Sternberg

Problem Statement

In 2017, after accusations of sexual harassment and impropriety against famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the #Metoo movement gained increased popularity and started a wave of victims coming forward with similar experiences. Three years on, despite numerous notable accusations, it is still difficult to determine the impact these issues have had on the film and television industry, especially in the Canadian market. Through qualitative and interpretive research, I aim to uncover patterns and behaviors correlated with gender discrimination, and as a result, whether it is a systemic issue within the Toronto film and television sector.

Methodology

Through interviews and surveys, this research highlights personal experiences in the Toronto film and television sector with gender inequality. Information has been pulled from thirteen above and below the line crew members (i.e. writers, grips, editors, accountants, and lawyers) to have a varied database of subjects. However, it should be noted that this report does not include interviews with actors and actresses, as many personal experiences and accounts have already been shared publicly and I hope to shine a light on less visible industry members. Detailed accounts of pay disparity, sexual harassment, opportunity disparities, and unfair dismissals underline a greater and possibly systemic issue in our community. This research relies on personal accounts with intimate and vulnerable subject matter, therefore, all data has been presented from anonymous sources to protect identities.

Qualitative Interpretation of Data

This project has taken a qualitative interpretive approach to data collection using interviews and surveys. Although quantitative research may have been used as background support during the planning and proposal phases, a qualitative approach was deemed most suitable due to the sensitive subject matter. All data has been coded using an inductive method to identify themes and patterns that are more suitable and effective for analysis. During this process, I was able to divide the coding into two main categories: emotions and subject matter. Emotional coding was given descriptors such as: sad, frustrated, happy, dejected, and angry. Subject matter coding was given descriptors: verbal harassment, physical harassment, coercion and threats, and dismissive behaviors. By separating these two categories I was able to get a clearer grasp on what type of gender inequality they were experiencing and how these experiences made the subjects feel.

Subjects

Thirteen subjects were interviewed and surveyed. Of those subjects eight identified themselves as female, using she/her pronouns. The remaining five identified themselves as male, using he/him pronouns. All are currently employed in the film and television sector and all were above the age of eighteen. At the time of this study the subjects were employed as follows; four accountants, three electrical grips, three writers, two lawyers, one editor. For the sake of privacy, all names have been redacted and some personal details have been changed.

Results

Out of the thirteen subjects interviewed all described witnessing some form of sexism in the work place.

- Ten of the subjects, nine identifying as female, had experienced workplace harassment based on gender including inappropriate advances and contact, degrading comments based on looks, and in one extreme case, sexual coercion. This amounted to 83% of subjects personally experiencing sexist practices while at work.

- 87% of female subjects said they felt they had been overlooked for promotions or other career-advancing opportunities based on their gender.

- 46% of subjects admitted to making assumptions about their co-workers' skills and capabilities based on gender.

- 61% of subjects were aware of one or more instances where they were paid less than their male counterparts for performing the same job.

- 69% of subjects believed there was a greater systematic problem in the industry with harassment and inequality

Analysis

This research shows that the majority of those employed in the Canadian film and television sector, male or female, have experienced sexism and gender inequality at work. Astonishingly, all subjects had witnessed some form of sexism, either committed against them personally or against someone they knew. Additionally, less than half of the subjects were open about their own gender biases and it impacted their views on employee skill sets and capabilities. Data coding showed the majority of subjects were frustrated, dejected, and sad when describing their experiences with gender imbalances. Furthermore, coding displayed that the majority of those with first-hand experiences were more likely to describe instances of extreme violations such as physical and emotional harassment and sexual coercion. Therefore, I am surmising that these results show a greater systematic issue within the industry. These instances have become the majority rather than outliers in an overall safe environment.

Researcher Bio

I am a fourth-year professional communications and film studies student at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. I have been personally involved in the film and television industry for over two decades and professionally involved for the past five years. I currently work for a Toronto-based production company specializing in accounting, business affairs, and tax credit consultancy for film and television. My interest in gender disparity in the industry comes from personal and second-hand experience with these issues. Through this research and my work in the industry, I hope to emphasize the benefits of hiring and nurturing diversity and creativity in the workplace and, as a result, disassemble some of the systemic issues surrounding gender in the workplace.

Credits:

Created with images by davide ragusa - "untitled image" • Math - "Fujifilm X-T10 – Close Up" • Revolver Creative Company - "untitled image" • Jeremy Yap - "untitled image" • Felix Mooneeram - "Shooting this for album art for the band Easy Kill. We wanted to reflect the references in the lyrics to movies and cinema; whilst also showing the desolate/isolated emotions dealt with in the album, too." • Joel Muniz - "untitled image" • Denise Jans - "8mm filmrolls"