16 Dec 2022

2023’s Equal Pay Day Campaign motto is: The Art of Equal Pay. The German gender pay gap in arts and culture is at a staggering 30 percent. It shows the structural causes of the gender pay gap across society (18%) as if through a magnifying glass.

Particularly in the arts, whether performing arts, visual arts, dance, or music, we may think it is all about ability and maybe negotiating skills. These are individual challenges, right? If that were true, women would have solved the problem long ago.

Traditional role stereotypes such as men possessing greater assertiveness and willingness to take risks prevent women from taking on leadership responsibilities in areas like directing and production for example. There is also a lack of women in the management or administrative departments of cultural institutions. Only 22 percent of theaters are helmed by women.

In 2021, the overall proportion of women in German boardrooms was around 29 percent while at around 35 percent across the EU. Germany thus ranked 20th among the 27 EU member states. Women appear half as often on TV as men do. Even on children’s TV, there is only one female fantasy character for every 9 male characters. Women mostly play a role in the context of relationships and partnerships. This reinforces the prejudice that women are responsible for social issues and men for the technical sector. But women can do technology and men can do nursing!

Female soloists are underrepresented in orchestras, even in supposedly female instruments like the harp. Only 13 percent of composers are female even in concert series for contemporary music.

Becoming a mother is often the end of a female artist’s career. Like most women, female artists take on a large part of family care responsibilities. Network connections with opportunity providers are necessary for an artist’s survival but cannot be maintained due to time overload. If a female visual artist managed to become well-known and interesting to collectors, her already sold artworks diminish in value once she becomes a mother.

Women on average take on 52 percent more unpaid care work in society as a whole. During this time, they cannot be gainfully employed. This affects the wage growth throughout their lives, their career opportunities, and pensions.

Decision-makers and selection committees for grants or awards are often homogeneous in terms of gender and age – women are absent here.

The 2023 EPD Campaign aims to make a broad public aware of the economic, political, and social structures that prevent women from being as successful as men in the art market. The same structures are responsible for the gender pay gap in society as a whole. Time to change this as quickly as possible – despite all the crises!