Opin vísindi

Culture as "Women's Work"?

Culture as "Women's Work"?

Title: Culture as "Women's Work"?
Author: Einarsdottir, Sigrun Lilja
Sigurjónsson, Njörður
Bjarnason, Finnur
Date: 2022-09-15
Scope: 13
University/Institute: Háskólinn á Bifröst
Department: Félagsvísindadeild
Series: 12th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research; ()
Subject: Félagsvísindi; Kynjafræði; Jafnréttismál; Menning
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/4146

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Einarsdottir , S L , Sigurjónsson , N & Bjarnason , F 2022 , Culture as "Women's Work"? in 12th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research .


This paper presents the findings from an online survey among 694 cultural managers in Iceland. The purpose was to map the organisational environment of Icelandic cultural and arts managers, as well as portraying the demographic environment. The findings confirm that women are in the majority within the profession, with a ratio of 63% to 36%, although men outnumber women in private sector cultural institutions (53% to 46%) which is noteworthy since top management positions worldwide, both in public and private sectors, are predominantly occupied by men (OECD, 2022; World Economic Forum, 2022). It further confirms that the female cultural managers are better educated than their male counterparts, with 90% of the women boasting a university degree compared to 80% of the men. Additionally, and which makes Iceland perhaps an exceptional case, women dominate at every level of management, and not only in middle and lower management roles. Finally, our figures also indicate that over 75% of those studying cultural management in Iceland are female. The paper presents some possible explanations for this development in light of both the increased participation of women in the labour market in general and the increased professionalisation and standardisation of the role of cultural manager, while seeking to be aware of gendered biases in research and literature about management. This is put into perspective with the possible future development of cultural policy, the instrumental and target-driven nature of which frequently dress it up as a profitable enterprise, whilst most of its idealogical underpinnings render it more akin to a public service, such as healthcare and education. Speculating that cultural activity might be viewed as unpaid labour, which has traditionally been carried out by women, goes some way to explaining not only the developing gender divide but also what has been a major source of friction within cultural policy between marketised policy making and non-economic values. These differences may have been underlined during the COVID-19 pandemic with the state offering extra support to culture which was seen to perform the vital task of keeping people‘s spirits up and connecting them to one another, without a clear commercial or transactional agenda to be exploited.

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