It’s time for the creative industries to fully #EmbraceEquity

8 March 2023

On International Women’s Day, Head of Bectu Philippa Childs celebrates the progress the creative sector has made, but reminds us all there is lots more work to do.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs

Everywhere you look in the creative industries there are bold, brilliant women – from Bectu members forging careers in male-dominated areas like the live events sector, to trade union officials and women at the helm of influential sector bodies.

I have witnessed the creative industries changing over the past several years, with women achieving increased influence in the sector and being granted the space to speak up and use their voice.

This is being reflected in Bectu’s membership and it’s great to see so many women reps at Bectu, building our branches and collaborating on our campaigns.

However, the sector still has a lot to do to deliver gender equality, particularly in some roles. Roles like camera, sound and sparks are still heavily male dominated, with women concentrated more in hair and make up, costume and wardrobe roles.

The imbalance is reflected in Bectu’s membership, which is 65% male and just 35% women.

As the first female head of Bectu, I am fully committed to challenging bias in the workplace and ensuring that women are represented at all levels and in all sectors of the creative industries.

We know that achieving gender equity can be incredibly challenging in the creative and predominantly freelance workforce – decisions around having a family, caring responsibilities, as well as the effect of issues like the menopause, fertility treatment and pregnancy loss can be particularly challenging and taxing for women, and have a real impact on how welcomed and supported they feel in the workplace and their work/life balance.

The Film and TV Charity’s latest Looking Glass report, released last month, revealed that approximately two-thirds of women surveyed aged 25-59 thought of leaving the industry in the last year, compared to about half of mid-career men.

Similarly, lower proportions of women (as well as those from intersectional backgrounds) rated the UK film and TV industry a mentally healthy place to work.

Clearly, there is lots more progress to be made, and this extends across the sector beyond film and television.

However, many of that 35% of Bectu members who are women are incredibly vocal and together with other industry leaders are driving real and sustained change – from advocates at the highest levels of politics to grassroots campaigners. Along with the many brilliant Bectu staff who are women, there are many across the sector committed to driving equality and working hard every day to help achieve it.

Bectu’s Women’s Equality Committee is doing important work on period poverty and networks like Women in Broadcasting provide important spaces for women to collaborate, share and be heard; Share My Telly Job’s collaboration with ScreenSkills is making real progress on normalising job sharing; and our own Bectu Vision Project is supporting many women in their careers by delivering training opportunities to the freelance film and TV workforce based and working in Scotland.

In the coming days, we will be launching a new campaign advocating for better treatment of front of house theatre workers, many of whom are women and particularly vulnerable to anti-social behaviour encountered while at work.

What is clear is that women in the creative industries are great collaborators; it has been inspiring to see women across all sectors come together to spearhead initiatives and create impressive projects that push for real and long-lasting change.

By continuing to work together, I truly believe that the women in the creative industries can be the driving force behind the sector truly embracing equity and making work better for all.