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Arts and Creative Industries – Policy Position

Policy Piece

Women and Girls in the Creative Industries and Arts

(PDF version can be accessed here)


The varied nature of the Creative Industries in terms of skill-set, business models, expertise and talents, undoubtedly plays a role in the significant economic, social and cultural contribution the sector makes to Scotland. In fact, the Scottish Government’s definition of the Creative Industries spans across visual and performing arts, cultural education, crafts, textiles, fashion, photography, music, writing and publishing, advertising, libraries, archives, antiques, architecture, design, film and video, TV and radio, software and electronic publishing, and computer games.

However, as the accompanying evidence paper shows, the diversity of sub-sectors within the Creative Industries does not appear to have advanced a diversity of gender or progressed an equality of opportunity for women and girls within the Creative Industries and Arts.

The Creative Industries Policy Statement[1], published in 2019, set out the Scottish Government’s vision and priorities for the Creative Industries in Scotland and highlighted a number of areas considered important for the development of the sector. The Policy Statement highlighted the following eight priorities: developing and retaining skills, developing business support, promoting international profile, promoting innovation, encouraging inclusiveness, strengthening importance of place, focus on design and strengthening Screen.

The Scottish Government is still committed to achieving these priorities; however, since publication, the Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the landscape of the creative industries. For example, the impact of the pandemic on those working in the sector has likely been experienced disproportionately by women, as is the case across labour markets[2].

A need for a strong and resilient sector, with diversity of thought, ideas and experiences, has been further brought into the light, and it is necessary to now take a further look at our priorities going forwards. As we emerge from the pandemic and look to recover and restart, it is vital to examine how certain groups, including those with the protected characteristic of sex[3], have been impacted by the pandemic and where this impact might have been disproportionate or heightened in severity. Ensuring that this impact has been captured and analysed accordingly is the first step in ensuring the Scottish Government is able to best-provide tailored support for those impacted at the present time, while also being able to recognise and take action against any unhelpful reverberations, or set-backs in terms of progressing equality and diversity in the creative industries, which may arise from the impact of the pandemic in the future.

As part of the National Advisory Council for Women and Girls’ Creative Industries and Arts spotlight, an analytical paper has been produced detailing statistical information on gender inequality in the sector. The Scottish Government will take these findings as a basis to identify the gaps in provision in the sector where policy could have a fundamental role in creating a fairer landscape, to ensure that women and girls have equal opportunity to participate in and work in the Creative Industries and Arts. The Scottish Government will re-examine its priorities and set out what action it will take going forward to respond appropriately to these issues. This paper will set out a clear direction for future policy development in order to improve gender equality in the creative industries and arts.

This paper sets out some of the actions currently underway on tackling gender bias and promoting gender equality in the creative industries and arts. It also highlights relevant research related to gender equality in these sectors. This piece covers Scottish Government and partners’ activity in three different areas:

1) Women and girls as creators, participants and audiences

2) The diversity of women in the Creative Industries and arts in Scotland

3) The potential of the Creative Industries and Arts in Scotland to tackle gender inequality

Women and girls as creators, participants and audiences

The Scottish Government recognises the importance of removing barriers for women and girls to access the creative industries and arts. The Scottish Government seeks to promote equal opportunity for women and girls as creators, participants and audience but recognises that there is more to do in order to tackle inequality of opportunity. For example, the accompanying evidence paper highlights that men are more likely to occupy senior roles in the creative industries and earn more than women, despite there not being a difference in qualification levels between men and women.

The sub-sections below detail the activity already underway, in relation to the Scottish Government’s actions to support women and girls as creators, participants and audiences in the creative industries and arts. However, the gender disparity in terms of a potential gender pay gap and a male-dominancy of senior positions within the creative industries demonstrates a need for more action to be taken.

As highlighted in the accompanying evidence paper, in the Arts, entertainment and recreation, the median full-time gender pay gap was 4.1% in 2019 and 1.1% in 2020. In 2019, this was below the national average by 3.1 p.p. and in 2020 it was below by 2.9 p.p. Since 2017, the full-time gender pay gap has been narrowing in the favour of women.

Freelancers and part-time work

The accompanying evidence paper highlights that self-employment in the sector is more common than in the economy overall, which is likely due to the larger prevalence of freelance and contract work available. Women were also more likely to work in part-time  jobs.  It is likely that the pandemic has had a significant impact on freelancers within the creative industries. Therefore, more could be done to understand if the Covid-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women and girls in the creative sector.

It is clear from engagement with stakeholders that many creative freelancers choose to be self-employed because they enjoy the flexibility and agency freelance-working brings. However, many freelance contracts can be precarious, and this has likely been exacerbated by the pandemic which has put many freelancers in the creative industries and beyond in a difficult position. The Scottish Government has supported freelancers in the creative industries throughout the pandemic by committing £17m to the Hardship Funds for Creative Freelancers, administered by Creative Scotland and Screen Scotland.

Furthermore, the Scottish Government’s Creative Industries Leadership Group (CILG) met in June 2021 to hear a presentation from the Policy and Evidence Centre on their research detailing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on freelancers within the Creative Industries[4]. The CILG will continue to consider this issue, co-chaired by the Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development. The CILG has also recently established two working groups: one to focus on increasing the resilience of the creative industries; and one on training a creative workforce for the future of the industry. The latter working group have discussed the importance of work-security in the sector and the particular challenges of work-security for freelancers who find inconsistent contracts are a barrier to establishing themselves in the sector. Both working groups are in the process of developing recommendations which they will present to Ministers in March 2022.

The Scottish Government recognises that more could be done to understand the impact of the pandemic on freelancers, and specifically to see if there has been a disproportionate impact on women and girls. Accordingly, the Scottish Government will look to encourage the CILG, and its two working groups, to consider impacts on gender equality within their discussions on the resilience of the creative industries and on training a creative workforce for the industry.

Culture Strategy for Scotland

The Scottish Government’s Culture Strategy for Scotland[5] supports equal opportunities for people across Scotland to lead a cultural life of their choice with all aspects of cultural engagement – formal and informal – available to them regardless of age, socio-economic background, gender, ethnicity, race, language, disability or sexuality.

The Culture Strategy has inspired a range of programmes with diversity at their core. For example, our Culture Collective programme aims to establish a national network, supporting creative practitioners, organisations and communities to work together across Scotland to help shape the future of local cultural life, and to share and learn from each other as they progress. The 26 successful projects all demonstrated a considered and actionable commitment to equalities, diversity and inclusion, demonstrating how their approach genuinely engages people in developing the cultural life of their community, how their activity is inclusive and accessible, and the positive outcomes this will achieve. A number of the projects supported by the first year of funding are gender-focused. Stellar Quines, for example, are creating four creative hubs across Fife to deliver Young Quines – free-to-access youth theatre activity for young women in Fife aged 14-21 years old who are facing socio-economic deprivation.

We also launched Creative Communities, which has been supported by £2m of funding to date. This initiative supports and empowers individuals and communities to further develop their own cultural activity and is focused on providing sustainable opportunities in areas with limited opportunities and lower levels of cultural engagement. Match-funded by the Justice portfolio through the proceeds of crime, the programme also supports cultural projects that produce positive outcomes for young people at risk of reoffending. While the Creative Communities programme is not specifically gender-focused, we expect to see positive outcomes for girls and women as a product of the programme’s aims to create positive impacts for communities, reduce the risk of reoffending, and increase cultural engagement.

And we announced our support for Museums Galleries Scotland to build on their Skills for Success programme – with £40,000 of funding – by developing future approaches to diversify skills and widen access to careers in culture across the sector. MGS have worked with Volunteering Scotland and other partners to deliver a pilot project to recruit and support a targeted range of volunteers from diverse backgrounds to achieve a Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) accredited qualification. Another part of the project works with schools in low social-economic areas to highlight employment, training and development opportunities in the culture sector. We know that socio-economic inequality intersects with gender inequality issues, and by working to widen access, the Skills for Success programme aims to increase overall diversity in the cultural workforce in the longer-term.

The diversity of women in the Creative Industries and arts in Scotland

The Scottish Government is committed to encouraging inclusiveness and diversity in the creative industries and arts workforce in Scotland. Gender diversity varies across different parts of the sector, with the accompanying analytical paper highlighting that the highest male-concentrated occupations within the creative industries include ICT-related occupations such as Programmers and Software Development professionals. More analysis could be undertaken to examine why this disparity across the sector exists and whether there is more which could be done by Scottish Government and partners to improve access to these male-dominated parts of the sector.

The following sub-sections outline the action the Scottish Government is taking to increase gender diversity in the creative industries and arts, the aspirations the Scottish Government has to do more in this area, as well as highlighting relevant research undertaken by Scottish Government partners to identify key issues related to diversity.

Scottish Government’s Creative Industries Policy Statement – Encouraging Inclusiveness

The Scottish Government’s Creative Industries Policy Statement prioritises inclusiveness in the creative industries[6]. It is recognised that diversity brings about a broad range of perspectives, and this plurality of thought, ideas and approaches, is necessary in creating an imaginative, resilient and world-class creative sector. Diversity brings quality and there is a need for fresh and challenging voices and mind-sets that break the mould and encourage creativity. However, evidence suggests that there is still a lack of diversity across gender, disability, sexuality, age and socio-economic background in the creative workforce[7].

The Scottish Government will work to increase opportunities to broaden the backgrounds of those working in the sector and ensure talent is nurtured from a diverse range of perspectives. This includes ensuring that diversity outcomes are central to and embedded within activity, promoting more visible role models and promoting greater diversity among employees, senior teams and on boards. The KPMG Women’s Leadership Study found that 86% of women reported that when they see more women in leadership, they are encouraged they can get there themselves[8].   Initiatives such as Skills Development Scotland’s Academy and Youth Board, as well as Creative Scotland’s National Youth Arts Advisory Group are designed to bring new, diverse talent directly into strategy development and decision-making.

It is also vital that diversity outcomes are central to and embedded within activity relating to the Covid-19 recovery of the sector and the Scottish Government’s own role within this. This includes considering where sectoral guidance for the creative industries during the pandemic, or where actions taken to recover the sector post-pandemic, could constitute conduct prohibited by the Equality Act, constitute indirect discrimination, or will have a negative or even positive impact on a particular group. For this reason, the Scottish Government will continue to conduct Equality Impact Assessments where appropriate to ensure potential impacts of actions taken to recover the Creative Industries post-pandemic on all protected characteristics are considered.

Fair Work First

The Scottish Government is committed to Fair Work First, which asks employers accessing public funding to commit to: investing in skills and training, no inappropriate use of zero-hours contracts, taking action to tackle the gender pay gap, having genuine workforce engagement, such as trade union recognition, and paying the real Living Wage. The Fair Work First agenda is for all, including direct employees as well as those paid to work for and on behalf of an organisation.

The National Partnership for Culture ran a workshop on 29 April 2021 on the topic of Fair Work. Officials are now working with the NPC to refine the outputs of this workshop, which will form the basis of recommendations to Ministers, and will be published by the end of the year.

The Scottish Government provided £35,000 in funding to Scottish Enterprise to develop a Fair Work Employer Support Tool to help employers provide Fair Work. The tool is targeted at small and medium-size businesses and enables employers to self-assess their fair work practices and access support to strengthen their approaches. It was developed in partnership with the other enterprise and skills agencies and key business partners, and involved a range of businesses from sectors and locations across Scotland. The tool was launched online in January 2021 and complements the Fair Work Convention’s Fair Work Employee Self-assessment Tool, which enables employees to assess their own experience of Fair Work.  The Scottish Government recognises the challenges that smaller employers face, particularly those with limited or no HR function of their own – this may be a particular issue in the creative industries where many businesses are small.

Therefore, the Scottish Government will continue to support Scottish Enterprise and its partners in 2021/22 in considering how the Tool can be further developed and enhanced to support small and micro businesses, to support those involved in the collaborative economy to adopt fairer work practices, and how the tool will be evaluated and feedback gathered from employers to inform future developments. The tool will be evaluated and feedback gathered from employers to inform future developments.

5050 by 2020 Initiative

The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government has encouraged public, private and third sector organisations to sign up to the Partnership for Change, (launched in 2015), and to set a voluntary commitment for gender balance on their boards of 50/50 by 2020.

The Partnership for Change is a network of organisations and individuals who share a common ambition to improve diversity on boards and in senior leadership. By joining this network, organisations and individuals can share learning and experience in improving gender balance and diversity in the boardroom and beyond and access development opportunities to help bring talent to the boardroom, today and tomorrow.

Under the 5050 by 2020 initiative, the Scottish Government has improved the gender balance of the boards of our public bodies so that as at the end of November 2019, 50% of appointees are female.  The Scottish Government will continue to work with partners signed up to the pledge, including Creative Scotland, the National Performing Companies, and the National Collections, to share models of best practice in order to achieve the greater diversity needed and wanted in the broader cultural sector.

Furthermore, the Scottish Government’s Scottish Business Pledge encourages private companies to tackle not only gender diversity but a range of progressive business practices which will help make Scotland more prosperous.

Scottish Documentary Institute 50:50+ Women Direct Campaign

The Scottish Government supports the Scottish Documentary Institute 50:50+ Women Direct campaign, which aims to increase the number of Scotland’s documentaries made by women to 50% (currently only 16%) by 2025 (the 50th anniversary of the Sex Discrimination Act). This campaign has launched a number of initiatives to encourage more women, especially women of colour and from minority ethnic backgrounds, into documentary filmmaking. These include a mentoring and development scheme specifically for emerging women filmmakers, an outreach programme to draw out filmmaking talent within migrant and ethnic minority communities, and a targeted campaign to address bias.

The Scottish Government recognises that although work is being done to improve gender equality within the screen and broadcasting sector there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality, particularly in mid-career and senior creative roles. The Scottish Government will continue to engage on issues of gender inequality with Screen Scotland in our regular dialogues, as well as raising directly with public service broadcasters, and ensure action is taken to improve the accessibility of the screen and broadcasting sector for women and girls.

Women in Enterprise

The refreshed Women in Enterprise Framework and Action Plan Framework identifies priority areas of action and how best these actions can be collaboratively supported. The Framework established a Women in Enterprise Action Group, chaired by the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, which is committed to establishing a ‘Women’s Business Centre’ as a means of tackling the entrepreneurial gender gap in Scotland.

The potential of the Creative Industries and Arts in Scotland to tackle gender inequality

The Scottish Government recognises that issues of gender inequality are at large both within and without the creative and cultural sector. The creative industries and arts through music, literature, craft, design, theatre and more, can be used to tell a story and spotlight issues such as inequality and diversity. Therefore, the potential of the creative industries and arts in paving the way by promoting diversity of voices and engaging new audiences in issues of gender inequality are vast. However, in order to tell these stories and inspire the people of Scotland to engage and take action, the creative industries and arts sector itself must be excelling in improving its own gender diversity.  By leading by example, the creative industries and cultural sector in Scotland can help promote and progress gender equality throughout the sector, Scotland, and beyond.

The sub-section below highlights work being undertaken by Scottish Government partners and cross-party groups in order to improve gender equality within the sector. This paints a picture of the vast amount of work already underway within the sector to diversify the creative workforce and positively promote women and girls as creators, participants and audiences. However, the Scottish Government recognises that there is room for further activity in this area.

Women in Heritage

Historic Environment Scotland (HES)’s Mainstreaming and 2021-25 Equalities Outcomes Report highlights examples of activity that HES have undertaken to in relation to women in heritage, including the 2019 publication ‘Where are the Women’ and HES’s partnership with Scottish Women’s Aid for Women’s History Month exploring the commonality of experience of domestic abuse that are 400 years apart, “The Hidden History of Domestic Abuse: Margaret Crawford’s Story”. A series of blogs focused on aspects of women in heritage are available in the Women’s History section of HES’s website, including Scottish Women’s HospitalsWhere are the Black Women? and Isobel Wylie Hutchison: The Quiet Explorer .  The Women of Scotland pages on HES website showcase through a series of online exhibitions the dramatic stories and achievements of Scotland’s well-known women, alongside unsung heroines who helped shaped the country.

Museum workforce

The 2016 Character matters report, commissioned by museum sector development bodies (including Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS)) reported that the majority of the museums workforce is made up of white women and by those with a high level of education (88% hold a first degree[9]). However, on average, men still earn more and are more likely to hold senior management positions. In order to break into the sector many workers have spent a significant amount of time undertaking work experience, with half of these placements being unpaid, and many lasting nine or more months. The report also noted a shift in recent years towards short-term contracts. It recommended increasing the availability of Modern Apprenticeships, increasing development of leadership skills, and suggested funders should require recipients to demonstrate an active commitment to diversifying the workforce.

Glasgow Women’s Library’s 2019 Equality in Progress report aims to support the wider museum sector to gain a better understanding of ‘equality’ as a theory, with the intention of widening access, representation and inclusion for people with Protected Characteristics. It is intended to assist Scottish museum sector workers in all roles and at all levels to examine their approaches to equality, and to identify where changes to current practices can be enacted. It recommends the next steps will be to work with the sector to support senior management teams to ensure they have the right skills to excel in leading in equality work, support the development of a National Equalities Framework for Museums and support the development of Equality Action Plans for meaningful equality, diversity and inclusion.

Key arts organisations with a specific focus on women and equality

There are a variety of arts organisations in Scotland which promote women and girls as creators and participants.

Stellar Quines (Creative Scotland Regularly Funded Organisation) is an intersectional feminist theatre company based in Scotland. They create shows, engage with communities, take part in activism and support creatives, all with the aim of achieving greater equality.

Glasgow Women’s Library (Creative Scotland Regularly Funded Organisation) is the only Accredited Museum in the UK dedicated to women’s lives, histories and achievements, with a lending library, archive collections and innovative programmes of public events & learning opportunities.

Scottish Women Inventing Music (SWIM) is a collection of music creators and industry professionals who identify as female. Membership is comprised of women working in all areas and genres of music, who are committed to achieving a level playing field for women, pushing for gender equality across the music industry. SWIM offers network services; aims to educate and inform on women’s abilities and opportunities across the music industry; and advocates for increased visibility for women in music.

Girls Rock Glasgow (funded through Youth Music Initiative (YMI) Access to Music Making, 2019)

A project for girls aged between 8-16 years which aims to help girls find their own voice and build self-esteem through musical education, performance and group support. They work in partnership organisations such as Maryhill Integration Network, Unity, SAMH and LGBT Youth Scotland, in order to reach a diverse range of participants.

Gender Equality in the Media in Scotland

The National Advisory Council for Women and Girls (NACWG) published its first year report in January 2019, setting out 11 recommendations under the theme of Attitudes and Culture Change, which the Scottish Government accepted.

One of these recommendations was to create a resourced media body in Scotland, which will publicly review media which is deemed sexist, misogynistic or bigoted; will provide guidance on what gender equal media can looks like and will strengthen the intersectional voices of women in media.

To deliver this recommendation, funding was awarded to Engender to support a Development Manager post in Gender Equal Media Scotland (GEMS) to lead a project focussed on:

  • Establishing relationships with key media and equalities organisations and convening roundtable meetings with those involved in Scotland’s media and cultural institutions;
  • Mapping existing initiatives, resources, campaigns and research around intersectional gender inequality and sexism in media, within Scotland and internationally and assessing existing resources and their effectiveness in creating change;
  • Developing a long-term vision for a Women’s Media Body for Scotland, in collaboration with industry experts, academics, campaigners, and the public sector.

Report of the inquiry into Islamophobia in Scotland by the Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia

The Scottish Government is aware of the inquiry into Islamophobia in Scotland by the Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia.

Many participants involved in the survey, conducted as part of the research, observed the gendered nature of Islamophobia, specifically its negative and disproportionate impact on women.

Existing Research by SG and partners

Creative Scotland Survey, Understanding Diversity in the Arts

Creative Scotland’s 2017 survey Understanding Diversity in the Arts explored the working conditions and barriers to career progression of those who work in the arts. Of the survey respondents, 44% of women cited gender as a barrier to participation and career progression compared to 12% of men. The survey found that men were more likely to work in senior roles, earn more and describe the reach of the reach of their work as international whereas women were more likely to part-time and be the primary carer of children.

The survey results suggested that a key issue for women was balancing parental responsibilities with a career in the arts. Women with children were three times more likely to cite parental responsibilities as a barrier than their male counterparts. Creative Scotland has since begun to carry out research into radical approaches to childcare for creatives.

Of the survey respondents, women who worked as freelance artists earned on average £13,000, compared to £18,000 average of men, and were more likely to work part-time and to take on unpaid work.

Since publication of Understanding Diversity in the Arts, Creative Scotland has gone on to launch Create:Inclusion, a new fund that tackles under-representation in the arts, screen and creative industries. Creative Scotland also announced the launch of the Equalities, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Group in early 2021. The establishment of the Group is one of a series of measures being taken by Creative Scotland to embed EDI across its work, to ensure equality of opportunity and to tackle under-representation in the arts, screen and creative industries. Furthermore, progress is ongoing with the requirement of all organisations which Creative Scotland support through Regular Funding to have EDI action plans in place and to report against them.

Creative Scotland, Equality Matters: A Review of Equalities Diversity and Inclusion in Scotland’s Screen Sector

Equality Matters: A Review of Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion in Scotland’s Screen Sector was published by Creative Scotland in January 2017. The Review draws on evidence gathered from individuals and organisations working in film and TV in and highlights evidence of the numerous and complex barriers to access, progression and representation both on and off-screen.

In the review, gender was cited as a barrier for 39% of women (compared to only 7% of men).

A key issue raised in the review was that women with children working in the Screen Sector were 75% more likely to cite parental responsibilities as a barrier than their male counterparts.

The under-representation of women at senior level is an area of particular concern and Creative Scotland funding statistics (published 2017) indicate that this is broadly consistent with UK-wide statistics on the under-representation of female writing, directing and producing talent.

In Screen, Creative Scotland are working with the British Film Institute (BFI) and BAFTA Scotland to test a Scottish version of the BFI Diversity Standards by asking this year’s BAFTA Scotland Award entrants to self-certify and provide information on the diversity of their qualifying projects. Further details here – BFI Diversity Standards | Screen Scotland. In addition Raising Films have recently carried out a UK-wide survey (part-funded by Creative Scotland) to explore how COVID-19 has impacted the way we work, as parents and carers, in the UK screen industries.

In the performing arts, Creative Scotland have recently supported PiPA Scotland to build on the work they started with SG Workplace Equity funding. In music, Creative Scotland have been developing their networks and supported several gender equity in music projects. Creative Scotland have supported the songwriting collective Hen HooseSWIM (Scottish Women Inventing Music)Girls Rock Glasgow (through the YMI) and The Bit Collective for work exploring gender equality in the Traditional Arts. And of course two of their portfolio of RFO organisations – Stellar Quines and Glasgow Women’s Library – have gender equity as part of their core mission.

Diamond Report (2021)

The Creative Diversity Network’s Diamond Report (2021) found there was a lack of diversity across senior roles. Although women were well represented in the role of Head of Production (84.4%) and Series Producer (55.4%), they were poorly represented in the roles of Director (29%), Producer Director (36.3%), Executive Producer (39.9%) and Writer (33.4%). The Diamond Report also found significant gender imbalances between roles in production areas. Females were predominately involved in costume and wardrobe (78.5%) and hair and make-up (98.3), whereas camera, sound and lighting roles were occupied by males.

Ofcom Report on Diversity and Equal Opportunities in Television and Radio

Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, reports on diversity and equal opportunities in the broadcasting sector annually. In its latest report (published 25 November 2020), Ofcom reports that despite a growing focus on diversity and equal opportunities in the sector, progress on improving representation had stalled, particularly for social and geographic make-up of their workforces.

Looking at the whole of the broadcasting industry, the proportion of women employed quite closely reflected the UK working age population more generally (47% of which is female), however women remained underrepresented at senior levels. Radio now led TV in this respect with the proportion of senior roles occupied by women having risen to 43% (while in TV the proportion fell to 41%).

The Scottish Government believes women should be fairly and properly represented across all sectors including broadcasting and we welcome Ofcom’s work in this area. While some progress has been made, broadcasters still need to do more to achieve gender equality on and off-screen, particularly in senior management.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) Work-Based Learning (WBL) Activity

SDS engage with Scottish Government regularly on skills development within the Creative Industries and an SDS representative sits as an observer on the Creative Industries Leadership Group.

SDS carried out a review of their Equality Impact Assessments for work-based learning, and for Level 4/5 (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework) highlighted that:

  • Working with learning providers and employers in the key sectors where the gender imbalance is the most pronounced to identify challenges and take proactive steps to attract and retain talent
  • Working with partners and employers to generate interest in non-stereotypical roles at a younger age by working with schools, careers advisers and parents/carers to broaden their understanding of work-based learning and the opportunities in different sectors
  • Working with the Improving Gender Balance officers in schools to raise awareness of work-based learning opportunities
  • Providing opportunities for providers and employers to share best practice around recruiting and support individuals from under-represented genders
  • Supporting learning providers and employers to undertake good practice such as engaging with schools, taking positive action in recruitment, and providing mentoring support to help retain talent
  • Exploring options for specific project activity aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in apprenticeships within certain sectors – their recently commissioned Equality Pilot demonstrates this.

SDS Equality & Diversity Mainstreaming Report 2021-2025

The SDS Equality & Diversity Mainstreaming Report 2021-2025 has newly published equality outcomes for SDS. Outcome two is focused on women and girls (see page 17-18). There is a related case study on page 21 about their work with Technical Expert Groups (TEGs) in apprenticeship development. Page 23 highlights their work with the Gender Commission in the development of projects and initiatives to address gender bias.

The Gender Commission will make its recommendations over the next few months and that will include practical suggestions for what employers can do to promote gender diversity through apprenticeships.

SDS Career Information & Guidance

SDS offers a universal, all-age Career Information & Guidance (CIAG) service for everyone in Scotland. This includes school pupils and those in employment who are seeking to change or progress in their career, for example women returning to the workplace.

Through this, SDS’s careers advisers support women and girls to develop highly effective Career Management Skills; enabling them to make career decisions based on their likes/dislikes and strengths and challenge any preconceptions or gender stereotypes. This applies to pursuing careers in all sectors, including Creative Industries and Arts, and to progression across their careers, to address the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles across all sectors.

To support their advisers to challenge ‘traditional gender norms’ and stereotypes and to promote gender equality, SDS will be taking forward the following actions:

  • Mandatory Gender Competency CPD developed and delivered, in partnership with Close the Gap, for CIAG colleagues in relation to CMS development and Professional Practice (delivery Oct 21 – May 22)
  • Equality Practice Coach (EPC) role piloted within CIAG to support ongoing equality learning and inclusive practice across local teams. A few of these EPCs will focus specifically on addressing gender inequality (Network established Aug 21, Pilot evaluated, July 22)
  • Covering all CIAG functions, the CIAG Equality Management Group has a partnership agreement and shared action plan to co-ordinate collective equality activity. This group will also receive Gender Competency CPD to support identification and implementation of effective action to address gender inequality (Group established June 21, running quarterly).


This policy paper, accompanied by the analysis paper, has outlined that there are still many barriers in Scotland to women and girls as creators, participants and audiences in the Creative Industries’ and Arts in Scotland.

Furthermore, it is clear that while the Scottish Government has undertaken a range of policy initiatives over the last few years to improve gender equality in the creative industries and arts in Scotland, there is much more work to be done.

In September 2019, the Scottish Government’s Creative Industries Advisory Group (now the Creative Industries Leadership Group), a forum enabling sub-sectors across the creative industries to engage and discuss issues of strategic relevance to the industry, discussed the topic of ‘Promoting Diversity in the Creative Industries’. While these conversations have been useful, it is clear that more could be taken forward by the Scottish Government to ensure that these issues and discussions stay on the agenda in the sector, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes ensuring that the potential impacts on women and girls is considered fully when the Scottish Government is developing policy relating to recovery and restart.

This paper recognises that the creative industries and arts have a role to play in tackling gender inequality, but also that there is an exciting opportunity for the sector to lead by example. The creative and varied nature of the creative industries and arts sector means that they have a unique voice and potential to reach and engage with new audiences, both in Scotland and globally, on issues of diversity, including on gender inequality.

However, in order to shine a spotlight on gender inequality issues across society, the sector itself must be able to demonstrate a commitment to challenging gender inequality and alleviating barriers to women and girls as creators, participants and audiences across the sector.

The Scottish Government understands that there is more to be done to achieve equality for women and girls in the creative industries and arts and is committed to continuing learning, working with partners and industry, and taking action to ensure the sector reaches its full potential, leads by example, and eliminates barriers for women and girls in the creative sector.

Following the NACWG spotlight, the Scottish Government will facilitate a discussion with SG partners to consider where there are gaps in our current collective efforts to improve the situation for women and girls as creators, participants and audiences across the sector. This discussion will help support more detailed policy-thinking on these issues and a set of actions will be developed to ensure gender equality is considered in both short-term and long-term planning for the creative industries and arts sector, within and outwith the parameters of sectoral recovery from Covid-19.

[1] Creative industries: policy statement – (

[2] Slide 1 (

[3] Protected characteristics | Equality and Human Rights Commission ( Act 2010 (


[5] Scottish Government’s Culture Strategy for Scotland

[6] Creative industries: policy statement – (

[7] Creative Industries Federation (2017) Creative Diversity -The state of diversity in the UK’s creative industries, and what we can do about it, 30183-CIF Access & Diversity Booklet_A4_Web (1)(1).pdf (

[8] Women’s Leadership Study (

[9] Character_Matters_UK_Museum_Workforce_exec_sum.pdf (