A Possible Explanation for Gender Gap in Creative Industries
A Wall Street Journal blog entry cited a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Review on gender-based wage differences that found that women were actually more likely to negotiate salary than men, but only when the job postings specifically stated that salary was negotiable. In more ambiguous situations where it was unclear whether the salary and other terms of employment were up for discussion, men were more likely than women to engage in negotiations. The study was based on 2,400 responses to job postings for administrative assistant positions. Furthermore, it was found that when salary was listed as negotiable in the posting, the gender gap in applications decreased, as more women were more likely to apply for the position in the first place. The study also found that men preferred more ambiguous work environments and suggested that this could be a reason why a gap persists and is more prevalent at higher level jobs.
The blog entry/study, while not specific to the creative industries, does highlight many of the issues we have discussed in class regarding the gender gap in these industries. The Alper and Wassall article touched upon such trends by describing many of the studies that have been conducted over the years on the demographics and trends of the creative industries workforce. For example, Alper and Wassall discussed a Stoh longitudinal study examining continuous versus interrupted careers (characterized by four or more job changes). It was found that men were more likely to have continuous careers that were more steady and experienced more promotions while women were less likely to do so (two-thirds of men versus one-quarter of women surveyed). At midlife, women with continuous careers had higher personal incomes and less children than women who had interrupted careers. A Bielby panel study documented the wage gap among the Writers Guild of America (WGA) when comparing minorities and women to white males. While the panel study found that the gap did decrease over the last few decades, it still persists.
We discussed many possible reasons for such disparities in the wages and employment between men and women in class. Many times, we tried to understand the culture and environmental factors beyond family or life choices that many others pinpoint as the main reason why women do not occupy as many high-level positions or make as much money. The recent National Bureau of Economic Review study could provide some explanation to why women do not stay in the creative industries longer that is not necessarily about having children. If the study is accurate in suggesting that women prefer less ambiguous situations and having situations more explicitly stated, then it wouldn’t necessarily be much of stretch to surmise that women may not like the precarious nature of work in the creative industries. Cultural workers deal with a lot of ambiguity and instability where rules are not always explicitly stated. Creative workers often work as freelancers or independents bouncing from job to job, working multiple jobs, working flexible schedules from various locations, etc. There is more deregulation in the creative industries and the power of the unions in many industries has diminished, making it more work environments more precarious and defined. According to the latest study, more men than women prefer such environments.
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