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Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at University of California, Berkeley. She is also, probably, one of the most influential contemporary theorists on gender theory. ‘Gender Trouble’, first published in 1990, introduced (in very simple terms) the notion that gender is a performance, that the notions of femininity and masculinity are created by cultural-social influenced acts that bound individuals within a heterosexual matrix (!). I plan to come back to Judith Butler a lot in my research. Her work is massively dense and painful to read – I once heard a quite esteemed academic refer to reading her work  as ‘like trying to swallow glass’. It takes you on a mental journey whereby you have to re-programme all your thoughts that you perceive to be your own and question how they were formulated by external influences, but that’s the point of theory. She questions all the fixed notions of identity – notions that are paramount to the subjects that I am addressing with regards to gendered employment in the Creative Media Industries.

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The US based Geena Davis Institute on Gender has just released research on how women and girls are portrayed in film. It has some depressing stats on women working in production in the US as well. Click to access the reports.Geena Davis Institue on Gender Media research webpage

Miriam O’Reilly has won a landmark tribunal against the BBC for ageism in the UK visual media. As a researcher specialising in gender and the media the tribunal could not be a more timely case study. I would like to state that I am not able to comment on the tribunal’s decision or on the BBC’s conduct. I am not a media professional and therefore not in a position to do so. what I find interesting in this case is how the application of gender theory to the final court settlement (which upheld a claim of age discrimination over sex discrimination) offers interesting insight to the story.

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Every 2 years Skillset, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for the UK’s Creative Media Industries holds a national census of those working in the UK’s CMI industries. The 2009 statistics showed that the industry figures had fallen by 10% since the previous census. Strikingly, the majority of those leaving the industry were women. When converted into real numbers 5000 women had left the industry compared to 750 men. The vast number of those leaving were in the over 35 age category.

The results relating to the remaining industry revealed that overall in the CMI women are more qualified and paid less. They are also less likely to occupy the main creative jobs including writers, directors and producers and are instead found in hair/make-up, production, costume etc.

Click here to read more about the gender gap in the industry and get access to more reports and charts to outline the situatio.

Why is this bad?

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