B.C. women hit celluloid ceiling

Study finds females comprise 32% of union workforce

Women are not keeping pace with men in British Columbia’s booming film and TV production industry, according to a study conducted for the B.C. Institute of Film Professionals.

Researchers found that the “male-dominated work culture” makes it difficult for women to break in and develop working relationships despite their high level of education and track record of volunteering.

Women who do find work in nontraditional areas face isolation, according to the study.

“The first groundbreaking study about women in the industry was done in 1986,” said BCIFP prexy Eileen Hoeter. “Twenty years later, it would sadly appear that we are no further ahead.”

Mirroring U.S. studies, the B.C. study found that women comprise only 32% of the unionized workforce.

Vancouver management consulting firm Ference Weicker & Co. prepared the report, partly funded by the federal government.

Only 28% of the employees of the B.C. industry’s non-unionized companies are female, according to a separate study by Ference Weicker.

The three B.C. labor organizations with the lowest percentages of female membership in 2004-05 were IATSE 669 (43, or 9%); Teamsters 155 (130, or 16%); and Directors Guild (243, or 31%).

The business “needs to be accessible to anyone who wants to be a part of it, regardless of gender,” said Dusty Kelly, business agent of IATSE 891. The study “will be instrumental in guiding the industry in implementing strategic plans and training initiatives that are needed to encourage greater employment and career opportunities for women.”

Researchers interviewed 140 women film and TV professionals.

Study also revealed that women account for just 22% of members on elected boards in B.C. film unions and guilds.

BCITF will hold an industry roundtable here on March 7.