Am I aware of a gender pay gap in my working environment ? This is tricky to answer – that would mean I was aware of ‘going rates’ for artwork of other artists and also be aware of if my work is on sale next to a male artist that his artwork hasn’t been valued as higher because it’s perceived as ‘better’ or more sell-able.
An article from Th Sydney Morning Herald said, ”University of Technology researcher Marco Navone dispelled doubts that women are genetically predisposed to creating “worse” artwork than men by conducting surveys testing participant attitudes to artworks when the gender of the creator was stripped away.
“As we suspected, people could not guess the gender of the artist,” says Navone. “But some people – especially men, people with a higher income, and those who visit art galleries and museums more frequently – tended to rate the painting lower if they thought the artist was a woman.”
At my .’level’ as jobbing artists rarely do we know how artwork is valued/priced because of the variable of subjectivity and often being in the hands of others to sell our work. But would my artwork sell for more if I was a male? It is something I can’t answer.
What I do know is that for ‘historic’ paintings at art auctions show a huge difference in price between gender with work created by women selling for nearly 50 per cent less than paintings by male counterparts according to recent studies. But of course this goes with the back drop of under representation throughout art history of women artists and a male biased dialogue relating to art of the past.
I have some hope when I see recent appointments of women at a senior level across visual arts organisations but I’m not sure if this is drip feeding down at a local level. In a sector where we all have to fight for any pay let alone equal pay and as a woman artist I still think male representation is greater than female and where women are still new to defining ourselves within a female artist context compared to the hundreds of years of male dominated art, it is hard to have a framework on which to judge if I am being treated equally and paid equally.
But the discussion is open and we are beginning as women to have information because of the Gender Pay Gap lists being published today. Information is power if we choose to use it and bring up the issue in our job interviews etc but in hard times how many of us feel empowered enough to do this when we may just need some pay whether its equal or not?
I work in the knowledge that when I work for funded opportunities that at least I am able to ask the going rate for my work regardless of my gender so take some comfort in that. I also know that its a lot about how you value yourself and how you exude confidence in situations where rates are not fixed and go in at a realistic rate rather than a ‘I hope I get some work from this rate’. I am lucky that I now have experience and some moderate success on my side that allows me to place what I consider are realistic values on my work. But I still then feel the need to give something back and do a lot of free or heavily subsidised mentoring and support for younger/inexperienced artists which whilst valuable in so many ways does take away from my paid work.
Finally I can only commend the arts council for providing access support to provide help for artists that need extra support to make applications, to assist them throughout their project and also to make work accessible to an audience by providing realistic pay for those who take on that support role. Also the arts council blog regards Gender Pay Gap makes me hope
‘At the end of March 2017, the mean difference between the average salaries of men and women working for the Arts Council was 6.7%; the median difference was 2.6%. This is a smaller gap than at the end of March 2016 and it is smaller than the Civil Service pay gap. However, any pay gap – no matter how small or improved – runs contrary to our belief that diversity is vital and that everyone deserves to be treated fairly, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity or disability.’
In the arts diversity is integral to our make up so let’s hope that we can lead the way rather than drag our feet and feel confidant we are all treated equally as people in this sector and not feel any doubt.
As artists we need to foreground these discussions through what we do.
#genderpaygap #artist #femaleartist #equality #ace