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Women in the Performing Arts Project: Research plan and context Dr. Deborah Dean Industrial Relations Research Unit University of Warwick UK.

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Presentation on theme: "Women in the Performing Arts Project: Research plan and context Dr. Deborah Dean Industrial Relations Research Unit University of Warwick UK."— Presentation transcript:

1 Women in the Performing Arts Project: Research plan and context Dr. Deborah Dean Industrial Relations Research Unit University of Warwick UK

2 Research objectives and methods For the first time, to build a European-wide picture of advantage and disadvantage in performer labour markets. Main focus on gender and age For the first time, to build a European-wide picture of advantage and disadvantage in performer labour markets. Main focus on gender and age Importance of good response rates from each country - the more representative the findings, the more impact they will have on policy and practice Importance of good response rates from each country - the more representative the findings, the more impact they will have on policy and practice Survey; Interviews; Documentary analysis; Review of existing research Survey; Interviews; Documentary analysis; Review of existing research

3 Working as a Performer survey A unique, European-wide picture of the working realities of performers A unique, European-wide picture of the working realities of performers The survey looks at performers The survey looks at performers social identities and how they relate to employment in the television, film and live performance sectors and to what people see on their stages and screens social identities and how they relate to employment in the television, film and live performance sectors and to what people see on their stages and screens

4 The survey Background information Background information Going for jobs Going for jobs Working patterns and income Working patterns and income Employment opportunity Employment opportunity Age Age Social identities Social identities Caring responsibilities Caring responsibilities How do you see yourself represented? How do you see yourself represented? What would improve employment opportunities for you? What would improve employment opportunities for you?

5 Analysis of survey data Quantitative analysis (what is happening): Quantitative analysis (what is happening): e.g. will show clearly if there are national patterns in the gender of performers who report a decline in work after a certain age e.g. will show clearly if there are national patterns in the gender of performers who report a decline in work after a certain age Qualitative analysis (why is it happening): Qualitative analysis (why is it happening): What can the patterns tell us about why performers experiences vary by gender, age, nationality, and so on What can the patterns tell us about why performers experiences vary by gender, age, nationality, and so on

6 Interviews Gatekeepers – such as agents, directors, producers, casting directors, television executives Gatekeepers – such as agents, directors, producers, casting directors, television executives What influences decisions about access to work (who gets what job) What influences decisions about access to work (who gets what job) Connections with survey findings - how and why do the statistics exist and persist? Connections with survey findings - how and why do the statistics exist and persist?

7 Acting is a gender-integrated occupation… However Thomass (1995) UK research showed: 1. That there is less work for women performers overall, particularly in television and particularly over the age of That there is less work for women performers overall, particularly in television and particularly over the age of Before age 40 a generally equal number of roles, but men have more lead roles 2. Before age 40 a generally equal number of roles, but men have more lead roles 3. Work opportunities: a woman performer s decline as she ages, but a man s increase as he ages 3. Work opportunities: a woman performer s decline as she ages, but a man s increase as he ages

8 So, why? Dean (2004, 2005, 2007): studies from 4 year UK project looking at women performers access to work, pay and career longevity Dean (2004, 2005, 2007): studies from 4 year UK project looking at women performers access to work, pay and career longevity Methods: In-depth semi-structured interviews with 87 people (women performers; drama schools; agents; casting directors; producers; directors; writers; television commissioning executives; union officials) Methods: In-depth semi-structured interviews with 87 people (women performers; drama schools; agents; casting directors; producers; directors; writers; television commissioning executives; union officials) Observation of auditions in theatre and television Observation of auditions in theatre and television

9 Access to work Gatekeepers do look for acting talent and skills. However, often they look for these in the right package, based on societys ideas about types. And so do performers themselves… Gatekeepers do look for acting talent and skills. However, often they look for these in the right package, based on societys ideas about types. And so do performers themselves… Some examples - Some examples -

10 A performer had lost 25 kilos (4 stone /56 lbs) and was trying to convince herself to go for roles she had never gone for before: A performer had lost 25 kilos (4 stone /56 lbs) and was trying to convince herself to go for roles she had never gone for before: If it said Karen, 20s, attractive - I d just ignore it If it said Karen, 20s, attractive - I d just ignore it

11 Director, (White female) on the decision to cast a performer in a role: Does she read as a mother figure? Does she read as a mother figure?

12 Television producer 1 (White female) If you have a minor part in a drama and its a businessman, everyone thinks fine, hes a businessman, with his attaché-case, fine. They dont speculate any further than that, he is what he is. If youve got a female, a businesswoman, you cant accept it in the same way, you think – is she frigid, is she ambitious, does she have kids, if she has kids how does she manage? You know, all of that baggage which kicks in whether you like it or notIf you have a minor part in a drama and its a businessman, everyone thinks fine, hes a businessman, with his attaché-case, fine. They dont speculate any further than that, he is what he is. If youve got a female, a businesswoman, you cant accept it in the same way, you think – is she frigid, is she ambitious, does she have kids, if she has kids how does she manage? You know, all of that baggage which kicks in whether you like it or not

13 Pay Performer couple had a baby together - I can actually argue for more money for him now. Hes getting more, shes getting fewer auditions. Men are perceived as not having to choose. You can use all these things in your line of negotiations where with his partner - if she has a job, shed be expected to stay with the kid Agent 1 (White female) Agent 1 (White female)

14 Career longevity The smaller number of roles for women over 40 are often filled by well-known performers The smaller number of roles for women over 40 are often filled by well-known performers Childcare/caring issues Childcare/caring issues Different ranges of acceptability of ageing and appearance for men and women Different ranges of acceptability of ageing and appearance for men and women

15 If you re a character actress then your longevity is likely to be that much greater. Whereas, if you are an ingenue, a beautiful leading lady, you then have the ageing process to cope with … For them, reaching 35 or 40 is a difficult time because at some point they have to cross over from leading lady into character lady. Whereas a man, his longevity is that much longer. I mean, he can be a leading man into his 50s and 60s If you re a character actress then your longevity is likely to be that much greater. Whereas, if you are an ingenue, a beautiful leading lady, you then have the ageing process to cope with … For them, reaching 35 or 40 is a difficult time because at some point they have to cross over from leading lady into character lady. Whereas a man, his longevity is that much longer. I mean, he can be a leading man into his 50s and 60s Agent 2 (White male) Agent 2 (White male)

16 In this industry your time of maximum flourishment career-wise, for a woman is 20 to 40 … because actually women are only considered interesting up to when they re 40. I mean there s a huge generalisation, but you know what I mean, and within that they ve got to manage child-bearing and rearing. It s surprising women have careers at all, in performing In this industry your time of maximum flourishment career-wise, for a woman is 20 to 40 … because actually women are only considered interesting up to when they re 40. I mean there s a huge generalisation, but you know what I mean, and within that they ve got to manage child-bearing and rearing. It s surprising women have careers at all, in performing Television producer 1 (White female) Television producer 1 (White female)

17 TV casting directors (White females) talked about having to tell male directors and producers that they were not TV casting directors (White females) talked about having to tell male directors and producers that they were not casting your fantasies casting your fantasies One went on to say that One went on to say that actually, often we are, of course. actually, often we are, of course.

18 Leading performer (White female) Diane Keaton has never had anything done [plastic surgery] and she did that movie First Wives Club, with Goldie Hawn and Bette Midler, both of whom have had tons of work done. Oh my god, Diane Keaton looks so bad. I was like she looks like a woman, she looks like a woman in her 50s. I would love to think that I could help people accept themselves…not try to change it. I think its a personal challenge, to fight the voices constantly coming at me, from agents, producers, not towards me necessarily, but the sort of din in the background in New York, in Los Angeles, and all the places where I have to spend time, of women changing the way they look in order to fit into this career. And to fit to the world really, but its particularly stressed if what you want to do is act. Diane Keaton has never had anything done [plastic surgery] and she did that movie First Wives Club, with Goldie Hawn and Bette Midler, both of whom have had tons of work done. Oh my god, Diane Keaton looks so bad. I was like she looks like a woman, she looks like a woman in her 50s. I would love to think that I could help people accept themselves…not try to change it. I think its a personal challenge, to fight the voices constantly coming at me, from agents, producers, not towards me necessarily, but the sort of din in the background in New York, in Los Angeles, and all the places where I have to spend time, of women changing the way they look in order to fit into this career. And to fit to the world really, but its particularly stressed if what you want to do is act.

19 Central conclusions relevant to FIA project Stereotypes persist and are used in access to work not only by employers but by performers as well Stereotypes persist and are used in access to work not only by employers but by performers as well Working realities and disadvantage/ advantage inside performing are tied to working realities and disadvantage/ advantage outside in society Working realities and disadvantage/ advantage inside performing are tied to working realities and disadvantage/ advantage outside in society


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