New report provides insight into the status of women in the arts in Canada

An important new report on the status of women in the arts in Canada from our friends at the OAC! They commissioned researchers to synthesize existing research from 2010-2018 covering 6 sectors: visual arts, dance, theatre, literature, music, and media arts/screen.

Read ‘The Status of Women in the Canadian Arts and Cultural Industries: Research Review 2010-2018’ here.

Excerpts of the key findings as published on the OAC website are below. On the first key finding around the gender-based income gap, we see the same thing across Ontario’s nonprofit sector. In fact, just last week at ONN’s #NonProfitDriven18 there was an invigorating discussion of the gender-based income gap which, it is important to note, is even larger for racialized and Indigenous women.

Key Findings (excerpted from the OAC’s website)

Earnings and income

  • Research shows a pervasive gender-based income gap across all six sectors under review. Overall, women’s average incomes are lower than their male peers – a defining feature of work in the Canadian arts and cultural industries.

Education and training

  • Gender inequality in the arts and cultural industries cannot be explained by the education or skill of professional female artists and cultural workers. A cross-sectoral analysis of available data on education and training clearly shows that across all six sectors, women are as highly educated as men.


  • Women are well represented in administrative leadership roles in visual arts, publishing, and theatre, and in the top tier of Canadian orchestras. Executive and organizational leadership roles in the music industry are male-dominated. There is a notable shortage of data on organizational leadership in broadcasting, film and television production, the interactive digital media sector, and dance.
  • Women are severely under-represented in key artistic leadership roles in media arts/screen, theatre and music. In contrast, key artistic leadership roles in visual arts and publishing, such as curators and editors, are female dominated.

Career and industry recognition

  • Across all sectors, women’s artistic and creative works receive significantly less public visibility (for example, productions or exhibitions) and recognition (awards) than those of men.

Workforce and employment patterns

  • Overall, the arts and cultural industries workforce in Ontario is gender-equal. Fifty-two percent of Ontario artists, and fifty-one percent of cultural workers in Ontario, are female. However, the gender distribution within nine key arts occupational groups varies considerably:
    • Four groups are gender imbalanced, with more than 60% representation of one gender: dancers (86% female); artisans and craftspersons (61% female); producers, directors and choreographers (33% female); and conductors, composers and arrangers (35% female);
    • Four groups are gender balanced (i.e. no less than 40% and no more than 60% of one gender): other performers (53% female); visual artists (54% female); authors and writers (54% female); and actors and comedians (46% female);
    • One group, musicians and singers (50% female) is gender equal (i.e. 49-51% gender distribution).

Learn more.