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Half of women graduating into film and TV disappear from the industry – a research team explored how to solve the gender paradox

A respectful and open management culture, pay equity and education are key to increasing gender equality and tackling talent shortages, say researchers.
Elokuvan tekijöitä työssään, etualalla sinipipoinen nainen radiopuhelin kädessä ja kuvausryhmä taustalla
Photo: Unto Rautio / Aalto University

The audiovisual industry in Finland faces a gender paradox: equal numbers of women and men are educated in the field, but half of female graduates disappear into other sectors or out of the workforce. At the same time, the industry suffers from a serious skills shortage.

In 2017, the #metoo movement brought the discriminatory work culture in the audiovisual sector into the public debate, but what is the work culture like in Finland today?

National and international studies and the observations by professionals in the sector show that there are far fewer job opportunities for women than for men. The findings of Statistics Finland's Work Life Survey (2019), Cultural Policy Research Centre Cupore’s Employment Survey for Film Graduates (2020) and the survey conducted by the joint Action! project of Aalto University and Women in Film & Television Finland (2020) all repeat the same themes: gender and age discrimination, closed networks and closed job search.

‘The field faces a serious problem in truly valuing women workers and along it, a problem of how to match the work with the people who do it. The audiovisual industry must finally move into the 2020s, also in terms of gender equality. This requires active intervention, changes in the ways of working and bold decisions for diversity’, says Kirsi Reinola, Project Manager of Action! project at Aalto University's Department of Film and Television.

The Action! project, ending in May, has for three years been studying the current state of gender equality in the audiovisual sector and working to promote it.

Gender equality to be included in the growth pact of the audiovisual sector

The problem of gender equality is driven by inadequate and biased public funding. 

In 2019, a working group of professionals on the field explored the gendered assessment women face in funding negotiations and development work for film projects. The research group found that women's project proposals have a higher threshold to reach development. In addition, the proposed themes, the features of the protagonist or other characters and even the personality of the filmmaker are often the subject of derogatory language.

Kuva Unto Rautio
Photo: Unto Rautio / Aalto University

Business Finland, various ministries and industry professionals are currently working together to build a Growth Pact (Kasvusopimus) for the audiovisual sector, where the public sector and audiovisual operators will jointly define the future growth and development objectives of the sector and future business opportunities. The search is on for solutions, including the shortage of talent that is holding back the sector's growth. The Growth Pact is due to be finalised in August 2022.

‘We believe that the fastest way to improve the situation is to invest in gender equality. Therefore, the Growth Pact must include three desired changes: work culture, decision-making and skills development’, says Nina Maskulin, Action! project researcher at Aalto University’s Department of Film and Television.

The Action! project concludes by suggesting that in return, companies that receive significant public funding must collect data on gender impacts and comply with pay equity – as Finland is committed to promoting gender equality in working life at national, EU and UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development levels.

‘We need to understand that an equal and respectful work culture is a key part of responsible business and a future success factor for the sector’, says Kirsi Reinola.

Action! proposes solutions to address gender equality and skills shortages in the audiovisual sector:

  • The audiovisual sector needs a more open attitude towards diversity and more extensive cooperation. There is also a need for transparency and information on tasks, projects, salaries and contracts.
     
  • The gender impact of public funding needs to be actively monitored, reported and evaluated, with comparable statistics. There is also a need for more gender and diversity data as well as indicators.
     
  • Private and public funding for skills, research and development is needed: degree education for creative talent must be funded in line with the sector's development goals, and the growth of the talent pool must be supported by continuing education. In particular, the sector needs further training in management skills.

Contact:

Kirsi Reinola, Action! project manager, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, [email protected], 0504782605

Nina Maskulin, Action! project researcher, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, [email protected], 0504762268

Action! is a joint project between the Aalto University Department of Film and Television and Women in Film and Television Finland (WIFT Finland), funded by European Social Fund 20192022.

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