To recap, as opposed to the national labour force, where sex is evenly divided, female artists make up 63% of the population. As far as the major demographic markers are concerned, the distribution between males and females is about even, although home ownership is higher for female artists (52% vs 47%) as well as for residence in a metro region (59% to 56%). As reported already, gallery representation is much lower for females than males (28% of females and 36% of males are represented by galleries).
With regards to studio revenue, the relative measures for sales and artist fees have remained steady, with male artists consistently earning about double sales and half as much more in fees. Nevertheless, sales are down significantly for both, and fees up slightly. In grants, however, the order has reversed, with females earning slightly higher grant amounts as compared to males in 2012 over 2007. Combined, the amount of grants earned is steady.
In proportional terms, fees played an equal role in income, with sales topping 50% of income earned for males, and grants just over 30%; females are the exact opposite, with grants being over 50% and sales just over 30%.
There are several ways of measuring the wage gap. Most commonly, the basis of comparison is between full-time, full-year earners, which under many circumstances is the best way of assessing the existence of a wage gap, but it can also be misleading as employment as artists is often not full-time (with other income sources being needed to supplement the income from studio practices). This method also does not take into consideration time spent in earning the income so measured. As with other financial indicators, the average is also more susceptible to misrepresentation, as it is more sensitive to skewing due to outliers and extreme values.
Turning to the Waging Culture data, for visual artists, the net practice average hourly income wage gap in 2007 was 27%. This gap increased by 2012, however, to a shocking 60%. That bears repeating: for every $1/hr a male artist earns, a female artist earned 40¢. About the only mitigating factor here is that the average hourly wage of artists is so miniscule to being with.
One caveat to keep in mind is the effect of income disparity: top earners being, as we’ve stated, male, and these hourly wages being averages, the disparity between male and female artists is primarily in the far right of the spectrum … that is, the average hourly wage for male artists is skewed by a small number of high earners.
Nevertheless, this move away from income parity in the studio is in direct contrast with what is occurring in art related and non-art related employment, where the wage gap is closing quickly (from 24% to 15% in art related employment; from 33% to 8% in non-art related employment). Taking all three into consideration, however, sees the gap widening in overall net income, dropping from 10% to 14%.
This post was updated on November 5th, 2014, to restate the wage gap in percentage terms as opposed to the wage gap ratio (e.g., 15% instead of .85).
This is one of a series of mini-reports on the results of the 2012 Waging Culture survey, a study of the socio-economic conditions faced by Canadian-resident professional visual artists. Supported by the Art Gallery of York University, it is an undertaking of Michael Maranda. This is the second iteration of the survey. For other mini-reports, and for the full 2007 report, click here. Comments and questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
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