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Female-dominated Hollywood Crafts Jobs See Gender Bias, According to New Study

A new report commissioned by IATSE, Local 871 shows certain female-dominated craft professions such as script supervisors and art department coordinators  typically receive hundreds of dollars per week less than their counterparts in  comparable male-dominated crafts. In addition, the report found that sexual harassment and other forms of gender bias are prevalent in these professions.

The new report — titled “’Script Girls,’ Secretaries and Stereotypes: Gender Pay Equity on Film and Television Crews” — represents a wide range of below-the-line craftspeople who work on movie and TV sets.

Its findings prompted a call for industry-wide reform. In an open letter to the entertainment industry, a coalition of groups — including the ACLU, Women in Media and the National Women's Law Center — cited the California Fair Pay Act, which prohibits employers from paying women less than they pay men for substantially similar work.

“It is no longer acceptable for employees in traditionally female-dominated classifications ... to be stuck with low wages that oftentimes make it difficult to make ends meet, especially in expensive cities like Los Angeles,” the letter stated.

The study focuses on four crafts that have been traditionally dominated by women — script supervisors, production coordinators, assistant production coordinators and art department coordinators.

The findings show:

  • Script supervisors received minimum rates, or scale pay, that was less than those of first assistant directors and key second assistant directors. Script supervisors earned weekly scale rates of $2,573 in 2016, versus $4,465 for first assistant directors and $3,101 for second assistant directors on TV projects. The pay differential was even higher for movies. 
  • Art department coordinators were paid an average weekly rate of $1,238 in 2016, which was less than the weekly minimum pay for key second location managers of $1,687.

The Local 871 study was carried out by Working Ideal, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm that specializes in issues including workplace diversity. The study also explored workplace misconduct among below-the-line workers.

The results show:

  • 52% of women responding to a survey of Local 871 members said that they experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace in the last three years.

“The lower pay and status of these crafts reduces the economic and social power women have to challenge harassing and abusive behavior — especially given the high fear of retaliation and the informal and highly networked hiring practices on these productions,” the study states.

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The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada was founded in 1893 when representatives of stagehands working in eleven cities met in New York and pledged to support each others’ efforts to establish fair wages and working conditions for their members. Their union has evolved to embrace the development of new entertainment mediums, craft expansion, technological innovation and geographic growth. For more information, visit Local 871's website, https://www.ialocal871.org.

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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts