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I’m Tired of Gender Inequality and Sexism in the Photography Industry. Are You?

I think that it’s often difficult for people to understand or see the real struggles that female and nonbinary creatives face in the photography industry. If you’ve been keeping up with current news, Canon has faced some criticism recently. They aren't the first and won't be the last to make a huge diversity misstep.

On July 14th, Canon announced that they would be relaunching their Crusader of Light program in the Philippines. Once all of their brand ambassadors for the program were announced, many readers were shocked. Not a single member of the 11 Crusader of Light team is female, non-binary, or LGBTQ+. This is not the first time that this has happened with a big name brand, and if you look across most of their ambassador lists, you will find that they are mostly male.

According to an article on The Phoblographer, here are the stats:

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

This is a real problem, and it is not just Canon; it is industry-wide and deep-rooted. In 2017, Nikon did the same thing when announcing the D850. They launched a campaign and made this statement: “Meet 32 creative individuals from Asia, Middle East, and Africa, and join them as they embark on an experience with the latest FX-format D850 in their respective genres of wedding, nature, commercial, and sports. With their expertise in photography and videography, the D850’s technology, and Nikon’s craftsmanship, this is one DSLR ready to set a new world of limitless creative imaging possibilities.”

Not a single photographer out of the entire 32 member ambassador team was female.

Olympus UK did the same thing in 2016 when they announced their Visionaries and ambassadors. Out of 13 photographers selected, only one was female.

DIY Photography made a whole article on this topic in 2016, listing all of the stats for the big brands' ambassador programs, and apparently, not much has changed.

As a female photographer, I can tell you as a matter of fact that the issue is not a lack of female photographers who are qualified and capable. Instead, it is pushback and a real choice made by organizations and companies in who they hire and promote.

In my life, I have had multiple occasions where I was not given opportunities that I felt were based on my gender or age. Here are a few examples.

There is a local photography club that I have been a member of on and off for many years. A client of mine told me that he once asked their president why, as a local photographer who has an arts degree, traveled and worked on large campaigns, and won international awards, I was never asked to speak for them. I was told that the response was “why? She has nothing to offer. What would she even have to teach?” My website then and still to this day lists my accomplishments, magazine features, articles, gallery features, and more, including my favorite, when I won the National Geographic Travel Chase Adventure Competition. The prize for that was a luxury vacation with National Geographic to any of their destinations. I chose to go to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks with them. I still treasure my National Geographic badge and the gear that they gave me.

Well, in October 2020 the club reached out to me to speak for them, but said that speakers are not financially compensated. This was odd to me, as I know many photographers who have spoken for them and been paid. I reached out to a male photographer friend who had spoken for them and asked him if he was compensated for his lecture. He told me that they did pay him without issue. I went back to the club with this information and another board member contacted me to discuss it. I was told that they wanted me to do a Zoom presentation but “unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to pay you.” I politely declined. She apologized for any miscommunication and confusion. I just checked their website, and on the page listing the entire 2020-2021 speaker lineup, only two of them are females.

In October 2017, a large camera brand, who we will call Brand A, approached me to become an ambassador and instructor for them. I was so excited to have this opportunity to work with a well-known brand and felt like I was finally having a huge career breakthrough. In emails and then phone calls, we discussed the details of joining the program and made plans for me to start with a podcast and several photo workshops. They invited me to meet with Brand A team members at a large photography convention.

I met with the rep at the convention and was introduced to several other company reps where we discussed my upcoming work with them. It was then that I was invited to go to their convention afterparty, which was held at their main stage once doors, closed to the general public. This party was open to any member of the Brand A professional service program. This is one of those programs where anyone who owns their gear and is a professional can pay a yearly fee to join and get specialized gear service, loaner gear, discounts, and support. They had big banners advertising the member’s afterparty and prizes that would be given away at it, including a recently announced camera kit.

It ended up being a pretty big event and very crowded. I was super nervous. I didn’t personally know many of the people there. In the corner, by the stage, I saw a familiar face. It was a well-known photographer that I had met a few years prior. As a member of the Brand A service program, I had borrowed a camera from the local sales rep. After my project was completed, I let the rep know, and he asked me to return it at a video shoot that they were having. It was there that I met this photographer, had a brief friendly chit chat, and then left. So now, years later, at the party, I approached him, relieved to see someone that I kind of knew in a sea of complete strangers.

I was surprised to be met with immediate disdain. When I approached, I said hello and got looked at funnily right away. I thought that he didn’t recognize me. Fair enough, we had only spoken for a few minutes one time before. I reminded him of my name and that I had met him a summer or two ago at the video shoot. He said that I was wrong on the year, that it was three years ago, which is more than several, which means two. Okay.

He asked me why I was there and how I deserved to be there. I referenced being invited by the manager of their instruction program because they were hiring me. He didn’t believe me. He wanted to know my credentials. It felt like an interview where I had to prove myself. I always feel like a jerk if I say things that I have won or done. I am not sure how to bring up accomplishments without coming across as boasting, so I usually just don’t. However, there are times like in this article or at that moment it is relevant, such as when I am directly asked. So, I listed some recent competitions that I had won. I also referenced winning another photo competition by another company that he also works with so maybe it would click for him. I also reminded him that the party was open to any member of the pro service program. I did not understand why this mattered to him or why I was being interrogated.

I was straight up told, loudly: “you don’t belong here.” I was so embarrassed. People were staring. He told me that he was going to text the other company to try to get proof that I wasn’t “lying about winning” and pulled out his phone to do so. I literally went to another country with this brand as the prize. I still have all the emails and photos. I was so shocked that in minutes, this man was trying to tear into me just for being invited to a brand afterparty. I didn’t understand his angle. Why be so nasty to me? He said that the company didn’t text back right away to confirm my story. I said okay and that I wasn’t lying and didn’t understand what his problem was. I walked away into the crowd, feeling so small.

I should have stood up for myself more, but I just avoided him for the rest of the party. I didn’t know this person well, and he is a long-time ambassador of Brand A. I saw no reason for him to react this way to me saying hi to him at an event. I went from being so nervous and excited meeting with the brand and being invited to the party to being completely crushed.

Not long after the convention, I got an email that the brand “was a little behind” and they wanted to reschedule our plans. I was informed that they were having a different division schedule me to speak in California instead. I was told to wait to hear from the Ocean County division. I never received contact from that division and reached out to follow up with no response. I still have all of the emails. They just ghosted me.

In December 2020, I decided to be bold. After years of hearing nothing from Brand A, I reached out to the manager that I had been working with. I asked him directly for any insight into why things didn’t work out. I wasn’t sure that I would get a response or what it would be, but it was something that haunted me. In March 2021, he emailed me back. He was very frank and open that it boiled down to the company getting wrapped up in the mirrorless announcements, “so we kept booking people we already had in the system.” He apologized to me and explained that over the years since that happened to me, the brand had downsized its educational division until it was completely dissolved.

So, why does this matter? If you reference the statistics that I listed for the big brands, you will see that existing talent for their programs is very heavily male-dominated. So, if the choice is to keep and recycle the same people over and over, it is obvious who that leaves out.

There are also many instances when in polite company, someone asks what I do, I reply photographer. They assume instantly that I photograph weddings, and I explain no, I'm a nature photographer. They ask to see my work. They look at it and are skeptical — flat out do not believe me. I get the same comments from random strangers online: "you took all of these photos? These are really yours?” They are shocked, but I have grace towards them and gently explain that it is all my work. More often than not, I am asked to prove it, so I send them a video or a photo of me in the field. Usually, they don’t respond or block me after receiving a video showing me photographing. People don’t like when you prove them wrong.

Why do non-male genders always have to prove ourselves? Why do people not believe that females can be photographers? I have learned from this to say: “I am a nature photographer. All of the work on my site and in my portfolio has been taken by me in my travels over the years. In reality, it isn’t as luxurious as it sounds. When you see a photo of an animal in the snow, I am out there freezing, but I love what I do.”

One time, I was at a gallery opening where some of my pieces were displayed among other local artists. A woman recognized me and approached me. I knew of her as a local college art teacher. She said to me: “Don’t you think it is interesting how if you are attractive but bad, you can just get into any gallery?” I said: “What? Do you mean me?” She laughed in my face. I said: “Well whoever you mean, this was a blindly judged jury to get in here.” I let her know that this was my first time in that gallery, that multiple artists were represented on the walls, and that I had never met them in person before being selected. She just laughed again and left.

Apparently, even when you work hard and earn things, even some of your own gender just assumes it has to do with anything but your own skill. It is not the first time that a stranger has made a nasty comment when they see that I earned something — “oh it’s because she is female.” My Instagram has 273 posts, 5 of them show me, usually in the far distance. I am not advertising my body or self-image to get ahead. I am actually self-conscious and usually hate photos of myself. It is something that I am working on and has nothing to do with gender, yet people find it hard to believe that a non-male can be “good” at photography, so they just make a sexist comment.

I am speaking on my own experiences, but I have heard similar stories from other female or nonbinary photographer friends. I won't speak for them, as their stories are not mine to tell, but I will address the facts and reality of a deep-rooted issue in our industry.

When I enter photo contests or gallery competitions, most of the time, there is an impartial jury. They are shown the artwork and know nothing of who created it. They select and award their favorite based on the judging criteria and merit, and that is that. Wouldn't it be great if the ambassador programs, directors of photography, outlets, news agencies, etc. had blind hiring based solely on your portfolio?

Overall, it is difficult for women to be taken seriously and hired. What strikes me as odd is that according to CareerExplorer.com, in the United States “65% of photographers are female and 35% are male.” There is a huge disconnect here.

It is not just big brands holding onto old boys' club values making misogynistic choices time and time again, it is magazines and news outlets who hire for covers and photo stories. An entire website, Women Photograph, exists to hold accountable the companies who hire photographers and where they are choosing to give their money. There are spreadsheets of data month by month and year by year of facts showing the dismal numbers. Women Photograph looked into EOY tallies: “At the end of every year, news outlets compile galleries of their favorite images from that year.” In 2019, only 21.31% of the photographs were taken by women. Why does this keep happening every single year?

In 2018 Photoshelter looked at gender equality and compared magazine covers that year to see the percent taken by women:

•    National Geographic: 0/12 (0%)

•    Sports Illustrated: 0/12 (0%)

•    TIME: 2/12 (16%)

•    Cosmopolitan: 1/12 (8%)

•    Vogue: 5/12 (41%)

•    Condé Nast Traveler: 3.5/12 (29%)

•    Entertainment Weekly: 0/12 (0%)

•    AARP: 0/12 (0%)

The first comment to that thread reads “Don’t care.” 

Look, I get it. A lot of people just do not care. This does not affect them directly, or the system as it stands works in their favor. Well, this is not for you then, this is for everyone else who does care and wants to see real change.

The industry as a whole is not giving non-male creators a fair chance.

I am just one person. I am not a well-known photographer or big name. I can only speak on my personal experiences and the statistics and ask for change. I challenge the big brands to catch up on representation, pay rates, and opportunities for nonbinary, females, POC, varied age groups, and all people. I am no one to ask, but I do so anyway. Those who refuse are making a choice for all to see. Rather than after the fact apologies when you get caught making clearly misogynistic choices, choose the COVID times to revamp your programs and hiring practices. It is 2021, and this is a time of change.

If you are reading this and care, please raise your own voice so that the outlets, brands, and companies know that you want this change. As a female creator, the 65% want to be heard. If you are a member of an underrepresented group, let them know you exist.

If you are a non-male professional photographer, have a resume of work, and want to be hired by any of the big companies, brands, or outlets, post your portfolio in the comments below. Let’s show them that there are candidates ready and waiting. There are so many talented, awesome people who deserve a chance. Don't let them have any more excuses.

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302 Comments

kate g's picture

I wrote an article about sexism and misogyny in the photography industry. I backed it up with sources, statistics and my own experiences. That you chose to look up my "creds" as you call it and continue the unnecessary use of a name that I do not go by on Fstoppers in each post is very passive aggressive towards me. This article is not about me as a person. This is written about what is going on in the industry and the newsworthy event of it just happening recently. Doxing me will not help you look any less than part of the problem.

ChooChoo Chucklehead's picture

Dang Kate, you are brave for kicking the beehive right in its delicate, cognitive-dissonance-riddled ego! They can be very vindictive when threatened.

Excellent article, well researched and supported (not that it should have to be for anyone in photography with eyes connected to a brain). Good job to both you for the article and fstoppers for featuring it.

And not that it should matter, but as a male I stand in solidarity and support with you! Rock on.

David Pavlich's picture

I belong to a photo club and have been affiliated with another. We have lots of ladies in both clubs. Matter of fact, the president, secretary, and treasure of our club are ladies. At no point have I EVER heard anyone say that women can't be photographers.

Question: Most of these companies have Japan as their home. Is it possible that the Japanese culture has something to do with this? I don't know, that's why I'm asking.

Question #2: Is there any statistics that tell us how many photographers are male, female, non-binary, LGBTQ, etc? If we're going to talk statistics, lets find out just how many of each category actually participate in photography.

I look at results. I'm old school there for, I believe in merit. If one is good enough to fill the job, then I don't give a pixel's darn what their gender or politics is. The best and brightest to fill the positions.

Now, if someone is purposely excluding candidates because of some sort of prejudice, then that person(s) should be made gone. Results matter the most, but that's just me.

kate g's picture

Hi David! Thank you for taking the time to comment. While in your photo club there are many females, I wonder if they are hobbyists, self employed or if they are in the industry working editorial, commercial or for brands? In my article I address the situations where photographers would be hired by another entity such as a magazine, newspaper, brand, or company. This is where the issues come up. The photography industry as a whole and especially the upper tiers is known to be male dominated and difficult to crack into for females, regardless of skill or experience. The stats and the sites that I linked in my article show the climate for women photographers and how difficult it is to get hired for big assignments, magazine covers, features, brand ambassadors, etc. If you are curious about it you can look through the sites that I listed or search online on the topic. There are Youtube videos, articles, blogs, and many news posts where a company gets caught and apologizes but yet this issue still exists. I tried to give a few of my own experiences. I wholeheartedly agree with you that results matter! Unfortunately the numbers don't lie here on women wanting the same opportunities as men yet being looked over.

Jeff Bennion's picture

I don't think the problem is that people are telling women that they can't be photographers. In fact, you don't need anyone's permission to be a photographer. That's a strawman argument because Kate didn't say that people are telling women that they can't be photographers. What she said, and backed up with detailed facts and statistics, is that the accomplishments of female photographers are being overlooked and that female photographers are being overlooked for leadership and other prominent roles such as educators. So, although anecdotal evidence is usually the highest form of rebuttal to detailed facts and published sourced statistics, the composition of your photo club is irrelevant because it only addresses the issue of whether women are allowed to join a local club, and not whether they are systematically overlooked and given a harder path to prove themselves than their male counterparts for top tier positions and recognition. If you dig deeper, the root of the problem is a layer below that with the unconsciously apathetic crowd, and I say this as a former member myself. As in all forms of discrimination, the actual out and proud bigots are a tiny minority and, although they are the most malicious, they carry the least weight in overall scheme of things. The bigger problem is with the people who make up the majority of the class of people who are the problem. Those are the people who discriminate without knowing that they are discriminating. So, for example, Kate brings up several stories and statistics about how women are overlooked, and your response is "well, the best people should fill the spots regardless of gender." And I'm not so much picking on you because I'm paraphrasing your comment, but I'm using it as an example of a wider common response to this problem. So, here's the problem with that statement. First off, it's true that the best should fill those spots, but what does that even mean? In an artistic field such as photography, when it is male dominated or dominated by any one demographic, your view of what is "the best" will be skewed becasue the majority of the pictures that we are exposed to and are told are the best are created by men. For example, if 95% of the world's food was Mexican food and I were to do a poll and ask what is the best food, most of the responses would come back to be some kind of Mexican food because that is what people are exposed to. So, I'm not saying that in all areas, you can look at a picture and think, "That tree looks like it was shot by a woman." But, there are lots of artistic insights and points of view and genres and everything else that art created by women brings into the bigger picture. So, when someone presents mountains of evidence to prove a point that women are systematically overlooked, and you raise anecdotal evidence to combat a strawman argument and then also raise a counterpoint that is also irrelevant that the best should be in the top spots, it shows that you don't fully understand the problem. Because the only response to mountains of evidence of systematic discrimination is "Goddamn, let's fix that yesterday."

David Pavlich's picture

"Why do people not believe that females can be photographers?" This is quoted from the article. Maybe I took it the wrong way.

As far as your assertion that the best in the top spots is irrelevant, no offense, but I know I would never want to hire you unless you were the best person to fill the spot. If you run a business, that's what you want or at least that what you should want.

We go into business to produce the best or provide the best service. In today's world, it seems that having that philosophy is verbotten in some circles. Like I said, thank goodness that I'm retired and don't have to deal with this sort of business philosophy.

Jeff Bennion's picture

I said that the best should be in the top spots. But I also said that your view of what is the best is going to be skewed until the field is full of equality. I also doubt that in all the situations, the women were inferior to the men, so to look for alternate reasons why the women were systematically overlooked is weird I think.

David Pavlich's picture

Okay....how do we know when the field is full of equality? Is it by statistics or final results? Statistics don't tell me if the best was chosen, the choice was made due to prejudice, or the choice was made to satisfy a 'statistic'.

You place an ad, you gather the information from the applicants, and you choose the best of those to fit your needs. I know no other way to hire that has the potential to produce the best results.

Jeff Bennion's picture

It's easy. When the statistics are not drastically weighted in a way that is very suspicious.

David Pavlich's picture

There's an old saying; There's lies, damn lies, then there's statistics. Yes, we rely on statistics, but it's how questions are worded that can make statistics come out in ways that may not be on the up and up.

With my hiring philosophy, it wouldn't matter because I would pick the best suited for the position. It's not my fault if others don't see it that way. Don't hire based on statistics, hire based on qualifications. The best gets the spot(s).

Jeff Bennion's picture

Ok, well the question is: What is your ratio of men to women in your ambassador positions. The answer is stated above. So, we can trash talk statistics as a whole or we can stop bending over backwards to find ways to invalidate or mitigate the facts of the article. The article is not about individual hiring practices by small businesses. It is about global trends and how they should be looking at the best, but they are not because they are skewing the hiring in favor of men. As I've stated 3 times, I do believe that people should be hired if they are the best, and I also believe that what constitutes the best is equally spread out among the demographic of the industry, so the leadership positions should reflect that demographic as well. Since it does not, the only options are to believe that either 1) male photographers are overwhelmingly better than female photographers and the ambassador roles accurately reflect that, or 2) the heavily weighted statistics show that they were not judging on who is the best, but rather giving favors towards male photographers by a wide margin.

David Pavlich's picture

To get to your point,you will have to convince the people doing the hiring that they are, indeed, biased then get them to admit it. That is the crux or this whole discussion. What do you do if you can't get what you believe to be the truth out of the hiring people? Force them? This has been going on for some time now in other industries and government. Do you want photography to follow that path? "I don't care if this guy has the best portfolio you've ever seen, you have to hire 3 (take your choice other than male) before you can hire that guy."

Jeff Bennion's picture

No, you are confused. I'm not saying we have to fill quotas. I'm saying that highly slanted data is indicative of discrimination. Discrimination means by its very base definition that you are not hiring based on quality, you are hiring because you value or devalue one characteristic over quality. In a field that is predominantly one group, but the leadership roles are made up of the minority, that is an indication of discrimination, or in other words - not hiring based on merit. The way you combat that is to bring attention to it. Ok, so no one here, in the article, or in the comments is or has ever said that you have to hire someone just because she is a woman and you have to leave the more talented men behind because you have quotas to fill. no one has said that or even hinted at it. The entire thesis of this article is that the slanted numbers are indicative of gender-based hiring and not quality-based hiring, either that or it just so happens that men are really so much better than women by an overwhelming majority that they get those top spots.

Andrena Kruzich's picture

Hi David. Perhaps reading data collection over the decades, studies, and coming to an informed conclusion is a stronger arguement than just your personal observation at single company. Best of luck on your retirement.

David Pavlich's picture

If I'm doing the hiring, I'm looking for the BEST person to fill the position, period. If I'm told that I can't do that, then I'm done. Top qualifications are taking a back seat in this world. Again, I'm glad I don't have to deal with this anymore. I'd certainly be fired for not towing the line.

Stuart C's picture

On that Canon thing, I completely get addressing the fact no women are in that group, in fact it’s quite pathetic that there aren’t, but what has someone’s sexual preferences got to do with it?

kate g's picture

Hi Stuart! In referencing the LGBTQ+ community as well as women, I am addressing the fact that there are many types of people who the culprits here in the industry avoid hiring. Here is a great article in TIME that you might find helpful on this topic: https://time.com/4312779/how-a-lack-of-representation-is-hurting-photojo...

Stuart C's picture

Hi Kate, I just don’t understand why someone’s sexual preference should be addressed, are we sure all the men in that photo are heterosexual? Has anyone asked them? Is it really anyone’s business? I don’t disclose my sexual preferences to people I meet or work with and I wouldn’t expect to be asked. As far as I’m concerned being gay isn’t a different gender to being a man of woman, the only difference is you’re a man or woman who finds someone attractive, who that person is or what they look like is irrelevant and should be kept out of a discussion about sexism in the workplace (which definitely needs addressing).

Ivor Rackham's picture

Stuart, the LGBTQ+ community does suffer discrimination as well, and it is reflected in the statistics across a lot of industries, including the higher echelons of camera manufacturing. You are absolutely right that it should not matter, but it does. Therefore, it has to be addressed. Ignoring it, pretending it isn't an issue, doesn't lead to change.

Similarly, the lack of women, and people with brown or black skin, or from ethnic minorities, or identify as transgender or non-binary, is evident in prestigious posts within the industry.

Here in the UK, any public employment job applications have their names removed, so people only reach interview based on their abilities. Indeed, that does iron out the disparities. However, that doesn't happen in the private world, and so discrimination is more likely to happen. A long time ago, in a previous role, used to google search job applicants to ensure they didn't express extremist views or behave in a way that would embarrass my employer. You can be sure that there are those with bigoted views who do the same and, consciously or unconsciously, filter out those whose identities are not similar to their own.

It isn't until discrimination is globally recognized as abhorrent, and regressive, conservative values are replaced with those more fitting of modern society, that inequality won't need addressing. We are a long way off from that.

Stuart C's picture

I don’t doubt that there is discrimination Ivor, but I think it’s 2 separate discussions that need to be treat as such. There are some assumptions being made about the men in that photo and what their personal lives involve, do we truly know they are all straight men? And do we know for sure that it was even a subject that was broached by Canon when employing them? It’s plainly obvious there are no women present and the article should focus on that, but I think it’s unwise to throw in a line about LGBTQ when it’s a completely different issue and one that is much harder to point a finger at just by looking at pictures of someone.

N A's picture

I understand where you're coming from, there's no reason women shouldn't be competative as photographers, but occupational gender bias is everywhere.

In the US
73% of professional models are female
76% of public school teachers are are female
88% of RNs are female
97% of dental hygienists are female

On the other hand, post secondary professors are almost 50/50 male/female.

Although they may always not pay great they are valuable, highly skilled, professions.

Not trying to distract from your point but it's important to realize this is a widespread thing and it isn't just women who have hard time finding a place in certain occupations.

Question is, if you solve diversity concerns in one industry, can that be applied to another and achieve the same result?

kate g's picture

It is very true that the issues of misogyny and sexism exist in many industries. I am bringing attention to the issue for our industry because of the recent news and my having personal experiences directly related to this. Despite a lack of representation for women in many industries, I still feel that it is important to address it when it happens. Because of recent events it is a good time to open conversation, to offer ways to move forward, and to bring light on the situation so that when this happens they know we see them and their choices. If we ignore it and let it slide, they will never change or realize this is unacceptable.

Jeff Bennion's picture

Your position of "his is a widespread thing and it isn't just women who have hard time finding a place in certain occupations" assumes that an equal number of men are applying to these positions. Do you know if that is true? A more accurate comparison would be if it was more like in photography wit ha 65/35 split with 65% of any of these professions being one gender, but the minority gender holding the vast majority of all of the prominent leadership positions in the field. Do you know if that is the case in any of the statistics you googled?

N A's picture

A wiseguy. I have no idea what the male to female applicant ratios are. I assume most hiring managers are male although anecdotally there are a fair number of female frontline/middle management in education and health care around here.

A popular assertion is that women and visible minorities are preferentially hired in many STEM, healthcare, education, and creative fields. No idea if that's true, and I haven't seen hiring manager gender specified in those claims. Seems plausible but we're gonna need a stat on that.

Don't get self-righteous about Google. Not like anyone memorizes stats from an authoritative document for the sole purpose of spitting them out in comments just to prove a point. Of course I googled it. Next time I'll hit the public library and fax you my findings.

Jeff Bennion's picture

I'm not self-righteous about Google. I love Google. But whether Google contains valid information is not relevant to your comparison not being on point. I'm not sure what's going on in STEM exactly, but I'm sure it's not good. If I were on a STEM website and someone wrote an article about how sexism is rampant and cited multiple sources, I would just leave a comment that I agree, and not bring up poor comparisons and how maybe we should look at other industries and grab stats for them. I would just say, "Wow, great article. Thanks for doing all that research and shedding light on a problem." That's it. I would not try to play logical fallacy bingo in the comments.

N A's picture

We're talking about gender based hiring practices. It's perfectly valid to draw comparisons to other fields where gender preference exists. Maybe it's applicants, maybe it's hiring preference, maybe it's both, maybe it's neither. You obviously don't have answers, and neither do I.

Speaking of gender imbalances and logical fallacies, how about your portfolio?

Are boudoir models predominantly female or do you choose which customers you work with?

Why is the one man in your fstoppers port dressed professionally? That projection of confidence, professionalism & power is a stark contrast to the way you represent women. It's inconsistent with the rest of your work. There are social impacts representing men one way and women a radically different way, don't you think?

We need more male boudoir. I want you to make it happen.

And no I won't pose for you. I'm fat and ugly. Also a poorly represented demographic, male or female, in your work.

Serious. Not trolling. What's the deal?

Jeff Bennion's picture

Ok, well mentioning that other fields might also have problems, but we just don't know what they are is not very helpful and not entirely relevant without information about how it might be relevant. And I'm not sure you know what a logical fallacy is because then you would know that a portfolio cannot have a logical fallacy. Boudoir models are predominantly female. I'm not sure why. I think it has to do with the overwhelming balance of the impossible beauty standards placed on women vs on men, or maybe that so many businesses exist on selling billion-dollar ad campaigns to women that their skin is not good enough, they are not skinny enough, not beautiful enough, not sexy enough but also too sexy at the same time, and it drives women to want to tell the establishment to f off and do something that they want that makes them feel good. A number of my clients have also told me that they have been victims of sexual assault and use a boudoir shoot as a way to regain their sexuality in a safe way and to feel confident again. But I'm not really sure 100% why the vast majority of clients are women. I can only speculate. I know I certainly don't feel the drive to pose sexy. If you go to my instagram though, look at the shirtless guy I shot a few months ago. I'm not opposed to shooting men at all. But my style of dramatic light, renaissance style elegance isn't the vibe a lot of dudes are into. But I'm wondering which woman in my portfolio you think is not projecting confidence. If you go to my instagram and look at my testimonials highlight or my website and look at the testimonials on the front page, you can see the confidence that they feel. So, I hope that satisfies your need to derail. if not, please drop me a DM to further discuss topics not related to the gross systematic discrimination of women in leadership roles in the photography industry.

Chris Rogers's picture

Jeff Bennion: *drops mic*

Dude your work is amazing

Jeff Bennion's picture

Thank you kind sir

Michael Dougherty's picture

I remember 6+ years ago reading an article about photographers complaining about the lack of opportunities in professional photography. Then someone like Kim Kardashian comes along and starts selling books with all her selfie photography (with smart phones) and makes millions. She started an industry on how to take selfies.

Dave Dundas's picture

Hard not to notice all the job stats you quote are subordinate positions that generally pay far less (a speck of a percentage of models are the obvious exception here)...

73% of professional models are female - But the majority of paid pro photogs are male
76% of public school teachers are are female - But the majority of university profs are male
88% of RNs are female - But the majority of doctors are male
97% of dental hygienists are female - But the majority of dentists are male

If you're looking for a good paycheque, it's not hard to figure out what side of this fence you wanna be on, at least until we can remove the fence.

Multiple sources for these claims available upon request if you actually really need them.

Brian Cover's picture

More foolishness and whining from someone who wants to get special treatment because she has not been advanced because of her lifestyle choice or gender. There are as many straight males who do not get those same positions on boards, in clubs and as ambassadors of products. It is a fact of life. There are very few openings and you need to network your way into the circle of people who make those selections. Stop your public whining and focus on being better at your craft.

Deleted Account's picture

Who pissed in your Cheerios?

Jeff Bennion's picture

Wait just a minute there, keyboard warrior. Are you saying that straight men are systematically discriminated against in positions on boards and ambassadorships? Can you send me your sources and I'll write a huge rebuttal to this argument. I think the whole point of the article is that it's harder to network into something if all the top tier positions are not people like you.

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

Its hilarious that you're calling her very well written article that speaks of her own personal views and experiences as whining when your comment obviously just shows that you can't stand other people's opinions and you're whining about it.

Pro tip: read your comments 10 times before tapping that post button.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Brian, I think your comment proves Kate is right, by very nicely illustrating the misogynistic issue that exists in the industry.

Fortunately for Kate, because of her talent and hard work, she has made it as a successful photographer, despite the adversity she spoke about. It's great that she has spoken up about the issues, and I hope more people will be brave enough to shout from the rooftops about similar discrimination against anyone, whatever characteristic make them the target of that.

I wholeheartedly agree with everything she writes. Not that I need to, the empirical evidence she has provided proves she is right.

Narrow-minded attitudes always end up with discrimination against any marginalized group, and discrimination is always only ever the result of narrow-mindedness.

I hope that this article kick-starts a swing towards greater equality.

(Oh look. I'm a middle-aged white man in the photography industry who recognizes there is an issue.)

kate g's picture

Hi Ivor! Thank you for taking the time out to write in your support and kind words. While I expected to face backlash from trolls, I also hope that my article gets good conversation flowing and sheds light on the issues of sexism and misogyny in the photography industry. If anything as you mentioned, many of those who downplay, dismiss things, insult my career, name call, and more only serve as textbook examples for what is going on in our industry.

Matt Williams's picture

"I could make the same argument for those who are not visibly handicapped, those who are visibly disabled, those on the Spectrum, those who are financially disadvantaged, those who are neurodivergent, those who are neuronormative, and many-many more."

Yes, you could, great point. That's not the point currently being talked about, but yeah, maybe we should also talk about those issues too.

I'm not sure that argument is as solid as you think it was.

Matt Williams's picture

That you think all these industries are meritocracies says a lot

Jeff Bennion's picture

Ok, first off, points for using both the word "elucidate" and a semicolon (mostly correctly). Second, the fact that you can name a handful of successful female photographers is irrelevant unless you are saying that your ability to name those seven is in fact evidence that female photographers in ambassador or educator spots are not overlooked? So, I guess, yes, please do go on? And then also list the male photographers and then see if that list is in fact much longer and you just wasted your time by naming several female photographers off the top of your head? Or you could just accept the statistics and bypass that? But I'm sure you're right. All of the women who have been overlooked so as to make the scales balanced way in the favor of men is because the women just weren't good enough and/or didn't have good enough reps to get ambassador positions.

Deleted Account's picture

"What about" is not a valid argument.

You should stop speaking.

Deleted Account's picture

I don't think you're getting it. I see straight through you, and I am not interested in engaging you in conversation.

Go away.

Mike Ditz's picture

Half the woman photographers you listed are dead, and have been for long time...

Mike Ditz's picture

You chose to mention dead women photographers from 100 years ago without much context...¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Doug Walkey's picture

Sure, I'm really tired of hearing of gender inequality too. And I'm not sympathetic.
I've worked in government where "inequality" is a big thing to attack. I've also seen lots of talented, qualified people excluded because "we have too few of XX in the department, so we won't interview you."
I strongly believe everyone should have the same shot at success. Everyone. So take gender off the application form. Let performance define the individual. And leave sexual preference right off the table... it isn't anyone's business anyway.

kate g's picture

I want to make it very clear that gender inequality here means that while everyone should get a fair shot regardless of gender, that is not happening. The issue here is that males are preferred and chosen over females consistently, that the numbers prove this, and I and many others have experienced it. I am not saying to have fake token females in roles, I am saying to hire qualified people regardless of who they are. That is not happening currently.

Ed Sanford's picture

What precisely are your recommendations for fixing this?

kate g's picture

I am just one person so I have some ideas but they may not be the best and certainly are not the only ways to improve the situation. The first of which is just what little I could do to help by requesting at the end of my article:

"If you are a non-male professional photographer, have a resume of work, and want to be hired by any of the big companies, brands, or outlets, post your portfolio in the comments below. Let’s show them that there are candidates ready and waiting. There are so many talented, awesome people who deserve a chance. Don't let them have any more excuses."

It seems like first women photographers who are skilled and qualified for some of the positions that I mentioned such as editorial, commercial, industry ambassador, brand sponsored educators and more could post their resume or portfolio to show that they exist in direct response to what happened. For example Canon Philippines in July hired no women as ambassadors, that is what sparked this article. So it would be great to have some of the photographers from the Philippines post up and show they are here. That seems like the first step is having people to hire from. Also many companies and brands do not have open calls for these jobs, thus not allowing applicants to throw their name in the hat. In my examples in the article about brand ambassadors selected, it would be great to see a company have an open call for ambassadors. That would allow all types of people to apply.

Doug Walkey's picture

We may need to agree to disagree. While you find examples of one side of the female-to-male ratio, there are other examples with the opposite balance. Screaming "hire only females" or "rebalance with females" basically means your goal of allowing "all types of people to apply" is already broken. Two wrongs don't make a right.

And what you say really only applies to the visible sectors... Others need not wave flags, banners and scream from rooftops to demand special treatment.

Charles Mercier's picture

How many times does she need to say equal opportunities and treatment for you to realize that she's NEVER said give women, etc special treatment??? Geez.

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