Study finds majority of women report gender-based career barriers in Canada’s media production sector

Global research points to an integrated solution that includes disclosure, financial incentives and education

TORONTO, January 30, 2017 – Research released today by the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) in partnership with the Canada Media Fund (CMF) and other agencies and associations, finds that nearly 90 per cent of women respondents, working in Canada’s screen-based media sector, report facing gender-based obstacles to advancement in their career. The study - Women and Leadership: A study of Gender Parity and Diversity in Canada’s Screen Industries - also includes a global analysis of programs, policies, and legislation implemented to improve gender parity in the entertainment business in other jurisdictions, and identifies best practices that could be adopted here in Canada.

Of the 561 individuals surveyed for the study, 87 per cent of women respondents (and 83 per cent of all respondents), believe that women face unique career limitations in the sector, not encountered by men. Respondents indicated the most significant obstacles women face are pay inequity and lack of recognition for performance. The content of the report will be discussed during the Women and Leadership in Media roundtable, scheduled to take place during the CMPA’s Prime Time in Ottawa conference, February 1-3, 2017.

“This study not only provides us with data to further quantify the problem in Canada, it also gives us an extensive summary of effective tools, proven elsewhere, that can help us address and improve the gender disparity issue that we know exists here,” said Reynolds Mastin, President and CEO, CMPA. “Our content is at its best when it reflects the perspectives and experiences of all Canadians, and we look forward to working with our partners across the sector to ensure opportunity for all.”

The study’s global analysis identified Sweden as a leading example in achieving gender parity in media production. Between 2012 and 2015, that country saw the percentage of women in key creative film production roles increase from 26 per cent to 49 per cent, among productions funded by their national funding body, the Swedish Film Institute (SFI). This was the result of a comprehensive and multi-faceted action plan that included gender-based hiring targets, and also focused on removing systemic barriers that subtly discouraged women from pursuing major creative roles.

Drawing on findings from the global analysis, survey respondents were asked to select and rank a list of policy measures that could reduce gender imbalance in the sector. Respondents’ first choices were as follows:

  • Allocating public funds on a 50/50 gender parity basis (44 per cent)
  • Awarding bonus points in selection criteria for funding to producers who employ women and diverse candidates in leadership roles (15 per cent)
  • Reporting and disclosure on female representation by both public companies and funding bodies tied with earmarking public funds for female-led projects targeting emerging producers and creators (14 per cent)
  • Offering “unconscious bias” training (10 per cent)
  • Rewarding or incentivizing regulated companies which commission original Canadian content to meet gender parity and diversity targets (10 per cent)
  • Earmarking funds for women-led projects targeted to emerging talent (seven per cent)

“The results of this research are dramatic and when taken together with content from interviews conducted with women working in the industry here in Canada and around the world, a comprehensive blueprint for change starts to emerge,” said Mastin.

In summary, the study recommends the creation of a 360° inclusion strategy that includes tactics to meaningfully address the following six components:

  • Disclosure & Research
  • Financial Incentives
  • Conscious Inclusion Initiatives
  • Skills Training
  • Portrayal of Women on Screen
  • Diversity within Gender

The study was carried out by the entertainment research firm, Duopoly. The methodology included a broad-based online survey of Canadian members of the media production industry (561 respondents) with respect to their experience and perceptions regarding gender imbalance, key interviews with heads of agencies and funding bodies from around the world, and over 30 additional interviews with senior women stakeholders in Canada. Original research was conducted from August through November 2016.

Funding for this study was provided by Ontario Media Development Corporation, the National Film Board, the SODEC, Creative BC, Telefilm Canada, the Canada Media Fund, RBC, and the CMPA. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this study are those of its authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding partners.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) fosters, develops, finances and promotes the production of Canadian content and applications for all audiovisual media platforms. The CMF guides Canadian content towards a competitive global environment by fostering industry innovation, rewarding success, enabling a diversity of voice and promoting access to content through public and private sector partnerships. The CMF receives financial contributions from the Government of Canada and Canada’s cable, satellite and IPTV distributors. Please visit


For more information, please contact:

André Ferreira
Communications Manager
Canada Media Fund

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