The Scandal That's Ruining the Photographic Industry

The Scandal That's Ruining the Photographic Industry

Have you noticed the bigotry towards women in the photographic industry? It's there and I feel partly to blame. But some camera manufacturers and big photography businesses are the worst offenders.

Some while ago, I was approached by a moderately well-known photography business here in the UK. They wanted me to become a brand representative. I wrote back and said I would be happy to so long as there was equality within their ambassador team; I knew there wasn’t. Adding another white, middle-aged man to their ambassadors would do nothing to address that, and I didn’t want to be associated with a business that promoted inequality, even if it were passive and unintentional. I didn't hear back from them.

That made me look at other brands’ lists of ambassadors. The inequality across the board was shocking.

The person in this photo has incredible photographic talent. If she turned professional, she is likely to face absurd barriers for no other reason other than she is a woman.

Roughly comparing the split between men and women who are photographers globally, around 40% are women and 60% are men. I did a similar comparison ten or so years ago, and the percentage of women is increasing. I hasten to add it was not a scientific survey, just counting the members of each sex in photography social media groups, but it’s a reasonable guideline. Even so, we should be aiming for a 50/50 split between men and women in prominent positions as that is where the proportions of male and female photographers are heading.

In America there are thirty-nine women out of 141 photographers on Sony’s ambassador list, that’s just 27%. However, of their ninety-eight European ambassadors here in Europe, there are only ten women. In Asia only two of the fourteen ambassadors are women. Sony, you should be ashamed

Perhaps if powerful camera manufacturers perpetuate a culture of inequality, we should start to shun them.

Sony is not alone. Canon, for example, announced a list of ambassadors in the Philippines, and they were all male. A despicable act that, as far as I can see, they are not apologizing for. This, despite Alex Cooke’s article published here on Fstoppers highlighting the issue of over-representation by white men in the industry. That article was published over five years ago.

This really should not be an issue in the modern world. Snubbing women should have been eradicated along with the regimes that promoted misogyny, on top of their other evil practices, in the 1940s.

Does it bother you that Canon have shown what appear to be misogynistic decisions in their ambassadorial choices.

There really is no difference between the photographic abilities of women and men. In fact, when I count the most talented photographers I know personally, more than half of them are women. Furthermore, there are many internationally renowned female photographers. That is reflected in the Fstoppers photographer of the month that has an unintentional fifty percent split between the sexes. There are, of course, non-binary photographers too.

So, what is happening in the industry that gives us shameful statistics? Is it down to misogyny, or is there more to it than that?

There is an undeniable problem of men who hate women in the industry. One only looks at the despicable and sickening comments left on our women writers’ articles to know this is the case. There is a long history of internet trolls belittling, insulting, and bullying women. Read this excellent article by Kate G that highlighted the issue of discrimination against women, and then read the atrocious comments below.  Thankfully, those making such foul statements are now removed from this site and their accounts closed.

There is little doubt in my mind that misogyny is to blame. Especially so when you hear the stories the women have had to face from men. Including this world-class sports photographer being passed over for promotion because of bigotry that was both highlighted and perpetuated by her manager.

There's no question you have the skill or the work ethic, but the guys would never go to have you as their boss – you know how they are.

Or when photographing a sports event she was told, 

Put your camera down and go stand at the finish line. You're just here to be the reward for the racers.

Or

You don't look like a sports photographer.

Why am I keeping her anonymous? To avoid the hate she is likely to receive as a result.

Most brands have had or still have issues. On the Nikon website, only five of their twenty-five European ambassadors are women. In the Middle East, there are none. In the USA, they do much better. Of their thirty-four ambassadors, fourteen are women, which represents 40% of photographers, approximately in line with the number of female photographers there are currently. About a quarter of Lumix’s ambassadors are women.

One of the most talented and creative young photographic artists I know. Her ambitions within the industry are likely to be restricted unless we all work towards a cultural change within the industry.

Shockingly, I could count fewer than twenty women out of the hundred or so Magnum photographers.

I would even start to respect these companies if they held up their hands and admitted they had got it wrong and said what they were doing to redress that.

They are not all bad. Leica shows ten photographers on their UK website, six of those are women. Fujifilm is highlighting that they are making their X-Photographer program more diverse and inclusive. I approached OM Systems, they are undertaking a complete reorganization too, and I look forward to seeing the results of that as it's the brand I use the most.

I spoke to Tianna Williams, the Nikon Z Creator here in the UK, another amazing talent whose work I admire. She is quite optimistic that things are changing.

There is a certain change moving through the industry but in terms of recognition I think there is work to be done. There can still be a feeling of photography being an ‘old boys club’ and some genres such as sports and wildlife continue to convey that. However I think if we look hard enough and in the right places, there are incredible female photographers doing their thing! That is always a joy to see. 

Is it always deliberate and active prejudice by the organizations? Not wanting to appear hypocritical, I checked the numbers here at Fstoppers. Sure enough, there were far fewer women writers than expected. I found it strange because I know this is at odds with the nature of our community of writers and editors. They are amazingly supportive of everyone, and misogyny and prejudice of any kind are universally abhorred here. So, I asked Alex Cooke, our Editor-in-Chief, and he told me that it is difficult to keep women writers because of the nature of the comments that happen in the articles.

It’s a constant struggle for me. I try to hire as many women as possible, and we actually had several more a year or two ago, but they unfortunately left. I’ve been told at least once that the atmosphere in the comments and the like have discouraged someone from continuing. I simply don’t get a lot of applications from women, which makes it tremendously difficult.

I then looked at several other major photography websites, and women are greatly outnumbered on all except DXOMark. Interestingly, they don’t give the name of the writer of their articles. Consequently, the women cannot be targeted by sexist bullies as they have been elsewhere.

Are you and I to blame for this bigoted culture? Yes! Why? Even if we all despise that form of hatred – most people do – how many of us read bigoted comments and bother to challenge them?

I did on that one of Kate's, but I am sure there must have been comments I’ve seen in the past that I have not challenged.

Historically, all the brands have failed when it comes to equality. There have been improvements, but there is a long way to go. Do you check the ethical credentials of the gear you buy? Would you help pressure them into helping build a fairer world? If not, you have a problem.

So, this is a request to all the good people out there, the ordinary readers who find those comments as abhorrent as I do. Let’s start calling out the bigots and bullies and showing them that their attitude is unacceptable. Not just on this site, but everywhere. Report their comments and reply to them showing them up for their ignorance. If their comments are illegal, and many are, report them to the Police. Unless we all tackle this head-on, it won’t go away.

If you are attacked online because of any status, don't be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of people who are prepared to make a stand. Additionally, remember that those who come out with those kinds of comments are usually doing so to compensate for their insecurities and inadequacies. 

We should make sure we go out of our way to offer support to all photographers, especially women. Let’s work on this until the imbalance is redressed.

Maybe we should also start voting with our feet too. Until they have actively addressed their anti-female fascism, I intend to discourage my clients from buying products made by those businesses that continue exhibiting discrimination. Manufacturers should start to feel the pain in their pockets. Maybe that is the only way to change their behavior.

I also urge my fellow writers not just here at Fstoppers, but at Petapixel, DPreview, DXOMark, and others, to highlight this and other ethical issues in their gear reviews. Talk about it on your YouTube channels, write about it on your blogs. When you review the latest release of a particular camera or lens, amongst the advantages and disadvantages we should also rate them on their equality and ethical standards.

This should not stop with the mix of sex and gender. Racial and ethnic prejudice exists in the industry too. Most ambassador schemes are split into continental blocks. So, the race and ethnicity of ambassadors in each area should roughly reflect that of the part of the world it serves. That could be a whole new article in itself.

Let us demand that the manufacturers meet the same ethical standards that most reasonable-thinking photographers have. Let us also shame those in the industry who perpetuate any kind of bigotry, especially those of us who stand by and let it happen. Finally, let's see zero tolerance of all bigotry in our own online communities.

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196 Comments
Robert K Baggs's picture

Let's start this discussion by saying you're welcome to disagree, but be mindful of how you word your disagreement. That is, we won't tolerate the spewing of hate in all directions or sending abuse Ivor's way for raising the issue. Secondly, do not misrepresent what is being suggested here. The goal is for both equality of opportunity and parity, and I believe there's often confusion about this. In some genres of photography, there are more men than women, and so more male ambassadors than female ambassadors for, say, automotive photography (guessed niche), would be reasonable. But, overall, it has been fast approaching 50/50 in photography and certain genres may have female dominance (there are subdisciplines of portraiture I'd be shocked if they aren't populated mostly by females, for instance, though again, I haven't done the leg work.) Photography ought to be an incredibly progressive industry given its foundation in the arts, but the ambassador rosters have been a constant source of embarrassment on that front.

Just to reiterate: if you have counterpoints or arguments that there is indeed better equality than it might seem, we're all ears. If you're simply bent out of shape because you wouldn't benefit from the balancing of the scales, find a different outlet for release.

David Cannon's picture

So you believe the only two possibilities for responses that can be made on this opinion piece are either that equality is better than it seems or you’re bent out of shape? That’s a pretty ignorant and closed-minded assertion if so. Your hope for a homogeneous worldview (progressive) is also misguided as there are plenty of photographers from all over the world who would identify as conservative in different ways. Who are you to say your way is the only way?

Stuart C's picture

I think he is trying to say, make a point but keep it respectful... are you really struggling with understanding that?

Michelle VanTine's picture

He's just saying express your opinions respectfully

David Cannon's picture

Stuart C I understand that he's saying to keep it respectful. No issues with that at all. I understand what I read, thank you. The disrespectful tone in your reply shows that you are struggling to grasp that, ironically. The goal of reading is to understand what the author is saying. In that, Robert seems to be clearly saying that the only viable argument to this opinion piece is that the inequality might not be as bad as it seems to the author. Other arguments, he seems to be saying, can only come from a place of being bent out of shape because you're a man. There are certainly other viable arguments.

JR Kelsey's picture

Well stated...thank you...

Ausias March's picture

What if it's the author who is sending abuse to someone who disagrees with his point of view? Quoting him: "For all I know, you are just sitting in a Russian troll factory trying to destabilise our societies by undermining the western ideals of equality by using distraction techniques."

Is this xenophobic comment acceptable?

John Haniotakis's picture

An interesting statistic would also be this: both Fstoppers and the other large photo blog frequently post recruiting ads for content writers. How many of the applicants have been women so far (percentage), and how many of them have been hired to write articles?

Ausias March's picture

That’s a fair point. The author states that he rejected to become a brand representative because there wasn’t equality within their ambassador team and he didn’t want to be associated with a business that promoted inequality.

Have you checked how many women write in Fstoppers? What is the gender split of Fstoppers' members?

The inequality in Fstoppers is worse than the one in the camera brands he complains about.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Just imagine how many women rejected to become ambassadors for that brand (because of inequality).

Ivor Rackham's picture

There's a big difference. Historically, the brand had always had a bad record of equality in recruitment, not just women. Fstoppers, on the other hand, does activity recruit equally, check the diversity of the writer's here. I looked into it before I signed up. Furthermore, I am not standing in the way of there being women writers. If I had taken up the ambassadorship, I would have prevented a woman, or someone from an ethnic minority form taking the place. The business did recruit their first woman of color instead.

Secondly, the writing team here are hugely supportive of everyone on the team. If they weren't, I would have walked away.

The historical loss of women writers here due to bigoted comments is a problem caused by the photographic community and the narrow minded idiots who bullied them in the comments, and sometimes elsewhere. Sadly, many of these comments don't get reported, and so it is impossible for the small editorial team to know they exist. That is why I am asking everyone to help stand up to the bullies and report such incidents.

There are tens of thousands of readers of the articles, but very few reports, so some bigoted and nasty comments slip through. If all readers took responsibility for stamping it out, we could make everyone's lives a lot easier.

Sometimes the comments have been illegal, and those will start to get reported to the police. Worlwide, trolls are now getting caught and facing the power of the law. Imprisonment, fines, and compensation claims follow. Misogynists will make illegal comments so at their own risk.

It is time for a change so there is greater equality. It is starting to happen, but there are plenty of people who stand in the way. Just read the comments here to see that is true. There are plenty who continue objecting to there being fair and equal treatment to others. Those comments that try to hijack the debate says a lot about the people making them.

Additionally, clients, customers, friends, and relatives are also starting to question the motivations of those who put barriers in the way of fair treatment to others. So the tables are turning.

Ausias March's picture

The author claims that he doesn’t want to be associated with a business that promotes inequality, because of the gender gap in their ambassadors: "Adding another white, middle-aged man to their ambassadors would do nothing to address that".

Did he take the same stand with the business he is associated to?

Let’s take a look at Fstoppers:
- 16/124 members are women. (12.9%)
- 2/9 of staff are women (22%) . I found two people now writing in a long time, making 1/7 active staff (14%).
- Even so, only 1 in the last 100 published articles was written by a woman. (1%)
- In total, 24/8301 articles in Fstoppers were written by women. (0.29%)

Fstoppers has fewer female members, fewer female staff, and they are clearly being published less than man.

If you want to be part of the solution, lead by example.

Have a good day.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Did you have a chance to count how many comments written by males?

Stuart C's picture

My girlfriend teaches photography at secondary school level (teenagers for the American crowd) and if it wasn't for her I wouldn't have even bought a camera, so im thankful on a personal level that more females are getting involved in photography:)

On the camera companies and their ambassador schemes, I truly believe that they should have the best people for the job, regardless of their standing in the human race. If a certain group are misrepresented then it should be addressed, but it should be done with meaning and dignity and not just because someone has taken issue with it, as I don't think that benefits either party, it devalues the work that is needed if people are left with a view that its only been done as a 'token gesture'

So my personal beliefs are, do it, but make sure you are doing it sincerely, and not because you think it paints you in a better light.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi Stuart, Thanks for the great comment.

My concern is that historically the camera and other photographic businesses have deliberately ignored women in their ambassador schemes. If we accept that women are just as good at photography as men are - I know a few who are far better than me - then equality in numbers would happen naturally. If there is a big difference between the numbers of men and women then there is a problem.

Just like the numbers of photographers of the month here on Fstoppers naturally end up as a 50/50 split, then other aspects of the photographic industry should see that too. It hasn't and so it must be addressed.

Stuart C's picture

Yeah fully agree Ivor, I just don’t want a bunch of blokes sat in a room saying “oh, someone has noticed we don’t have any women on board, quick let’s find some and add them” because they think it will take heat off them… I’d rather they were doing it because their actual mindset had changed and they believed in it, otherwise it all just feels a bit empty.

Dave W's picture

I wonder what the selection process is for some of these ambassador programs? I can’t help but feel that a strong contributing factor might be that there is a smaller population of women in professional photography and, broadly speaking, they tend to have smaller followings. If any of these ambassador programs require a certain minimum “reach” e.g., Instagram followers, then I can see how systematically women might be removed from consideration. And to Ivor’s point, the progression to professional photographer, for women, is a road of hardships - a more social issue. I thought about how many “women of photography” I follow across all channels and it’s not even close. Close to an 80/20 M/F split. It’s likely that similar issues are also plaguing the platforms we use and the discoverability of women.

At the second order, I wonder what marketing analytics and metrics are saying to brands? I assume that the primary demographic profile for potential consumers of tech and camera related products heavily skew towards the middle-aged man. If this is the case, then it’s reasonable to assume that this would also influence brand and marketing decisions.

In short, it’s not just the brands that need to do better, it’s the social media platforms, the people involved in the talent funnel, and all of us as consumers.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Although it may well have been true thirty or forty years ago, the ratio of men to women is about 60/40, and that ratio is reducing and there will soon be at 50:50. Yet the industry is not reflecting that.

There are other industries that are similarly skewed, and there is a historical reason for that. But, judging by the horrendous stories I heard that prompted me to write this article, misogyny is rife in the industry.

AJ L's picture

I’d argue that adding women brand ambassadors is a positive - minorities too - even if just for perceptions. Especially for perceptions! Brand ambassador is a marketing role, not a lifetime achievement award.

It’s entirely about influencing the public perception of the brand. Who a camera company makes brand ambassadors makes a statement about who they want as customers. If a camera company adds women and minority photographers as ambassadors, they are marketing to women and minorities, increasing their representation among photographers, making the community more open. Even if you don’t care about that, consider that if your favorite camera company is able to make, say, 10% more sales by marketing to people who otherwise would not have bought a camera and got into photography, that’s more volume, more R&D budget, lower prices, more people buying and selling to make a better use gear market, more sales to keep your local shop open (if you even still have one) etc. The camera market is a lot less than it was 10 years ago. Bring more people on board benefits everybody.

Joephy Bloephe's picture

I’m looking forward to the misguided, naive, or bad faith comments from people who argue that there’s some fantasy meritocracy at play. Those are always funny.

Let’s not forget folks, such things have been studied and it’s been shown that there’s unconscious sexist bias against women not just among men but women as well. Consciously or unconsciously we’ve all been subtly taught by society and culture that women are lesser for “reasons”.

So yes. Even you, dear reader. Even you aren’t clean and pure and righteous. So if you’re reading this and were about to contort some arguments in defence of the status quo, perhaps examine why you’re so inclined to do so? And test yourself: how would you poke holes in your own arguments? If you’re any good at critical thinking then you’ll find it quite easy. Although I’d question how defending misogyny and having good critical thinking skills could co-exist..

JR Kelsey's picture

Quite accurate assertions !

Ivor Rackham's picture

Thank you, Joephy. Fantastic comment.

Jennifer Shields's picture

I think it'd be really worth fstoppers doing some serious consideration of your comment and moderation policy. If you're finding it hard to keep women writers on board because of what they're experiencing in this community from your readers, asking them to ask for help and asking other people to challenge those comments doesn't go far enough and shirks your own responsibility here.

Fstoppers has a responsibility to their writers to ensure a safe and respectable community - part of that simply must mean tighter moderation on your part - this could go hand in hand with some clear community guidelines. I've been reading fstoppers for some time, but created an account today to comment here - there should be a step in the account creation process that outlines some clear community guidelines people must agree to before being allowed to comment. This would help in creating a bit more of an intentional community, with clear expectations of the community members.

Roger Cozine's picture

Fantastic answer. I agree with you completely. Personally, I love your approach. The guidelines in here are pretty much non-existent and offer no insight as to what Fstoppers real stance is. Generating conversation is one thing. Accusing an entire industry of bigotry is something completely different.

Michelle VanTine's picture

I'm actually one of the female staff writers and I must say I've been very impressed by that actually that the space, as far as the other writers and editors, has been very supportive and safe.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi Jennifer, thank you for the comment. As Michelle says, the staff writers do go a long way to support each other and are doing a lot. However, there are hurtful comments aimed at all writers and readers that do get addressed, especially at women. I think it is part of the wider community to also stand up and take responsibility to help stamp out misogyny and other forms of bigotry.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Up till now the comment section was pretty civilized as for me. Some minor outlaws were banned, for sure.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Sadly, bigoted comments have slipped through and so I encourage all readers of this and other communities to help by reporting them.

Michael Dougherty's picture

This article is primarily about traditional photography. I didn't check the stats, but it seems like women absolutely smoke men when it comes to smart phone photography. Kim Kardasian was making $60 million per year, mostly from her iPhone selfie photography and her books. Look at all the beautiful women on Pinterest and other fashion web sites, mostly taken by women. I know I'm a little off topic, but I think he definition of photography needs to be expanded ......... a lot. Maybe Apple and Samsung need to start some smart phone groups with ambassadors. They would be dominated by women. (Maybe there already are, they just don't announce it. It's bad for sales.)

Jon Kellett's picture

Quick question: Do Apple or Samsung employ "Ambassadors"?

It's not a question of gender allocations within the wider body of photographers, but representation. Ambassadors is just one area where representation is rather "white middle-aged cis-male". That's obviously for the English speaking countries, for other regions it's by and large the majority race.

Personally, I'd be interested in reading articles where the authors life-experiences have played a part in colouring how they approach their work. I'd like to also see more diversity in that respect in terms of ethnicity, gender identity, etc.

Ivor Rackham's picture

That's a good point. Yes, I was speaking about the representation of camera companies, as opposed to other technologies, such as smartphones, computers, games consuls, cars, guitars, and so forth. It would be interesting research to find out how well-represented women are in different industries. To be honest, I don't know whether they have brand ambassadors in the way camera companies do.

There are no doubt areas of photography where women dominate, but I refer you to Robert's comment at the start of this thread. This is about the industry as a whole and the big, powerful camera companies that are demonstrating that they are prejudiced against women.

Jon, we do plenty of interviews of top photographers that often talk about exactly that. Sadly, they don't get as much readership as articles about the latest camera releases, which is madness because photographers would benefit a lot more from hearing about successful photographers' experiences than how many megapixels the latest camera has.

Roger Cozine's picture

I don't think there's any specific bigotry against women in the photography industry. There's plenty of women in photography who are absolutely killing it in all genres. I just think that male photographers greatly outnumber female photographers, which is why you see more male photographers in every situation. Similar to how women vastly outnumber men on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter....ect. I also don't think it's right to blame businesses for not hiring a certain demographic to fill some sort of equality quota. A businesses top priority should be to pick the best candidate for the job, regardless of race, religion, gender...ect. This push for industrial equality is sacrificing productivity and quality to appease a small percentage of people who feel misrepresented. Whether your male, female or something in-between, your going to face criticism and bias at some point. That's in every industry and in general life. To point fingers at an entire industry and lay claim that only women are being discriminated against seems like a very opinionated and skewed assessment.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

100%

Michelle VanTine's picture

If you don't think, there's any bigotry against women in the photography industry you should play dress up as a woman for a year and go to sports shoots and see how that goes. It depends a lot on what you're shooting. Women don't always receive bias going into a maternity shoot or an engagement session (though they might I don't know) but I can tell you FOR SURE that in sports.... you have to be tough as nails and just be ready for it.

It's like a Caucasian person saying there's no racism anymore. Just because you don't see it- doesn't mean it's not there

Jon Kellett's picture

With regard to racism (great point, btw), white people only see egregious examples because everyday "casual racism" has for many become background noise.

I imagine that sexism is similar in that it's so common that unless you or somebody close to you has been affected, you're blind to it.

Generally speaking, nobody wants to see themselves as the bad guy which ironically helps to reinforce blindness to these issues.

Michelle VanTine's picture

I will have to say as a female photographer working full time for over 13 years that MANY, and I will maybe even say MOST, men are extremely supportive of their female peers. Peers of mine that are men often pass along jobs they see that they know I would crush, and theysupport in so many ways. I was on a shoot recently and one of the men (I was the only female photographer working with 7 male photographers) walked up to me with his menu open on the camera and said, "I know you'll know the answer to this". They see me exactly as an equal and have even often mentioned that I should do workshops etc. One of them saw a promotion posted online that I had missed and actually spoke to our contractor and said "Have you considered Michelle? She would be perfect for this". So, I think it's a valuable point to say that, in my own experience many men are EXTREMELY supportive.

But then in the same token (actually the same week as the positive story above), I received an inquiry for a set of portraits for the Miami Heat. In the inquiry, they addressed me as "Micheal" not "Michelle". On my sports profile I have no images of myself but I do have my name. I caught the typo immediately. I went back and forth in my mind about whether to correct him or not, but decided not to for obvious reasons. He commented on specific campaigns I shot which he like, ran dates by me etc. It was very far into the process. Finally, he requested to schedule a call. At this point I gave him my availability for a call and also mentioned "Michelle, not Michael". He stopped responding. I followed up 3 times and he completely ghosted me. These kind of things happen not infrequently. To Roger's point above, people don't see it because they're not in the space- but it's there. It's unfortunate. It's disheartening. But, for myself, I redirect my mental energy to the hundreds and thousands of men who support women because there really are so many.

Ausias March's picture

Thanks for your comment, Michelle. Very good examples. Same as the comment on Sport photography, it sounded to me as the typical toxic behavior found in other sectors when someone considered "an outsider" starts working there.

Michelle VanTine's picture

Yes. MOST of the men I work with are GREAT guys. Super supportive; I'm just part of the team. But there's always a handful of the ones you describe. I try to spin it positively in my mind to think "This is your opportunity to prove their bias wrong- just think of all the women coming after you that will have one less of these guys to deal with". But I do always try to point out that the majority of men from professors to peers and people like Ivor Rackham writing this article and having this conversation are part of change and that I appreciate them.

Michael Hickey's picture

In the fall and winter I'm on all kinds of professional and college sidelines and baselines and the men to women ratio grows every year. It's a fallacy to try and say there are no women shooting sports. I follow a ton of them on Insta.
I think the OP's rejection to the ambassador program was short sighted and virtue signaling because maybe they approached women and they didn't meet the qualifications or they declined. To add a female photographer JUST BECAUSE she's female could be damaging to the brand.

Michelle VanTine's picture

I agree with everything you wrote Micheal. I didn't, and would never say, that there are no women sports photographers- that's not the case at all. I've worked with extremely talented ones that I admire deeply. I also agree with you about not filling jobs to meet quotas. I think companies should hire the best candidate always.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi Roger, when you say, "I don't think there's any specific bigotry against women in the photography industry.", where is your empirical evidence to support that. All the research and data show there is. Women are not a small percentage, they are half the entire population. If all businesses picked the best candidate for the job then, statistically, there would be close to a 50% split between men and women. The difference is a long way off that.

Look at the data highlighted by Kate's article published a few months ago: https://fstoppers.com/originals/im-tired-gender-inequality-and-sexism-ph...

Number of Female Canon Ambassadors

• Canon Philippines: 0/11 female ambassadors

• Canon Hong Kong: 1/14 female ambassadors

• Canon India: 1/10 female ambassadors

• Canon Mexico: 1/6 female ambassadors

• Canon Malaysia: 2/10 female ambassadors

• Canon EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa): 34/113 female ambassadors

• Canon Canada: 9/29 female ambassadors

• Canon USA: 12/38 female ambassadors

Or this chart that she highlighted where only 21.31% of images in top publications were taken by women.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Wu6_s2SzB1v5wXeaeVmfxUEs1rG0iGZl...

Andy Day's picture

"Whether your male, female or something in-between, your going to face criticism and bias at some point."

Absolutely, but if you're female, you'll more likely receive that criticism and bias based on your gender. Men face this far less often.

"To point fingers at an entire industry and lay claim that only women are being discriminated against seems like a very opinionated and skewed assessment."

This is not how I read this article. For me, it states that because of their gender, women frequently face barriers that men do not. The article does not assert that only women are being discriminated against. Men may also face discrimination, but very rarely is that discrimination based on their gender.

David Pavlich's picture

As someone that hired/fired employees when I was in the corporate rat race, I was tasked to hire the best person to fill the position. I repeat, the best person to fill the position. I wasn't told any other parameter other than the best and brightest. That way of hiring has lost its luster in today's world. You see, when you hire the best and brightest, the person sitting across from you is a future contributor to the company's future and that's it.

There isn't one person here that is prejudice free. It's human nature. We do our best to keep it at bay, but losing sight of why a business exists (bottom line, keeping the share/stake holders happy) is not good in the long term. Let the slings and arrows fly.....

David Pavlich's picture

One more thing...I realize that this is a photo website, but....

...are you aware that over 90% of bricklayers are men? That over 85% of waste handlers are men? That 82% of RNs are women? Just an observation.

Ivor Rackham's picture

You are missing the point, David. The number of photographers in the general population is quickly approaching 50/50. Women outnumber men in many university photography courses, and there are equal numbers in others. Yet, there are barriers in the way to stop women from getting high profile jobs in the industry. When they do get jobs, they face misogynistic abuse. This isn't a case of women not wanting to work in the industry, they are being prevented.

David Pavlich's picture

Nope...didn't miss the point at all. We can cherry pick different industries to prove a point. I have yet to see ANY articles anywhere complaining about women being denied jobs as bricklayers or trash handlers. Same for RNs. I see no articles complaining that men are being shut out of RN positions. Matter of fact, I've read articles and talked to nurses (my wife is an RN, retired) that wish more men would become nurses. There's reasons for that, but that for another time.

All I did was cherry pick a couple of industries that are dominated by men or women. Human nature dictates that we are biased. Some control it better than others. Cultures differ. Corporate culture is very slow to change. But to change for the sake of change to the detriment of the company is a poor decision for the share/stake holders and the company's customers. In a free society, we can choose to buy from the company that's doing what one thinks is best socially, or we can choose to buy from a company that provides the best product of service to meet our needs. Can they do both? Sure! However, if doing so is not good for the bottom line (I know many hate that term, but it's how the companies pay the bills, including the wages for the employees) then there has to be more discussion on the future of the company.

I've never done the research so I'll ask; is there any direct evidence that shows that top management makes a specific policy to keep women out in the photo industry? If so, then it needs to be corrected soonest. On the other hand, is it possible that those that do the hiring are doing so based on results? If that's the case, then it's really hard to fault managers. They want the best outcome.

Look....I'm all in when it comes to equality of opportunity. But, a company needs to hire based on results. Sorry, all the other stuff comes in second place. You can't expect a company to turn down a better prospect because that prospect doesn't tick some box. Or maybe that's what's expected now, which is more the pity. It's not fair to the better prospect and it's certainly not fair to the company and its customers.

Ivor Rackham's picture

You are asking for evidence where it is impossible to gather it. No business is going to stand up and say, "Oh look, our board comprises entirely men, and we actively (or passively) deny women jobs." What is measurable is the disparity in the numbers of women in key positions when there is fast approaching parity between men and women photographers, and also amongst graduates.

What is also measurable is the abuse that women suffer at the hands of men in the industry.

Plus, what we can also see are the misogynists who use fake arguments to try to deny it is happening, just as fascists deny other acts of inhumanity throughout history, or people with financial interests in fossil fuels deny climate change.

David Pavlich's picture

Fine. So..what do you propose? Do we legislate hiring practices of private business? Do we boycott the camera companies? From someone that used to hire people, things went off the rails when it was decided that hiring based on qualifications/results became less important than satisfying some sort of socially accepted hiring practices, results be damned.

I won't be able to help here since I like things more B&W. You're the best I can find? Your hired. Sure does simplify things.

Ivor Rackham's picture

David, what we do is highlight that there is an issue. We speak openly about it, and we demand change. Just like every form of oppression throughout the ages, we tackle it, we call out those who deny it's happening or put barriers in the way of change, and if businesses don't improve, then we vote with our wallets.

If you moved to hire based on qualification alone, then that was a bad move. I was asked to show my high school results when I applied for a job in my early 40s. They had little relevance to my experiences and I was a very different person then than I was when I left school. Hiring should be done on the basis of the best person for the job. Sadly, that often results in hiring the best man for the job. Whether those decisions are deliberate or subconscious probably varies from business to business. But unless we recognise that it exists, we can't move forward. Ultimately, if we ignore it, it will be bad for the business.

David Pavlich's picture

"If you moved to hire based on qualification alone, then that was a bad move."

And then you said," Hiring should be done on the basis of the best person for the job."

So which is it? When I looked at a CV then interviewed, I decided which candidate was best for the job. The CV gives me a look into the candidate's education and EXPERIENCE. I repeat, experience. The interview gives me an idea as to whether or not the candidate will fit and will give the candidate a chance to decide if he/she wants to be a fit.

Your high school analogy is flawed. If I were hiring you, I'd want to know what your experience was, not if you were a high school valedictorian.

Now, what others do when they hire, consciously or not, is a problem with human nature. I can't control other's hiring practices. I know what I looked for and if I were still in the rat race, it's how I'd still be hiring. The best and brightest, sans the social distractions. I wanted results, I didn't want to please some sort of artificial quota or some sort of PC dogma.

We're not going to agree on this subject and all the hand wringing and angst about it won't change the fact that to achieve a goal, the person(s) that will help with that goal the best is the person that works for me.....period. Letting other factors influence how you wish to achieve a goal is to compromise in what you expect as an outcome. If that's what makes you happy, then that's how you should run a business. I don't see it that way.

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