It would seem that the biggest magazines with the most hiring power hire mostly male photographers. -Daniel Shea
In September, Daniel Shea provoked quite the conversation with a post on his tumblr called “On Sexism in Editorial Photography.” We reblogged the original post on our tumblr but due to travel and assignment work never got around to a roundup on the main blog here. One great result of the conversation is Women In Photo, which collects the online conversation about these issues and presents a list of American and international women photographers that any editor shouldn’t hesitate to hire for assignment work. It’s a work in progress, with a few names I like left out (Melissa Golden, Melissa Lyttle, Alixandra Fazzina, Vivian Sassen, Sandy Kim, Ariel Zambelich, Megan Spelman, Narelle Autio, Krisanne Johnson, Carolyn Drake, Nadia Shira Cohen, Sim Chi Yin, Anastasia Taylor Lind, Jessica Dimmock, Stephanie Sinclair, Lynsey Addario), but it’s a great resource so far.
Shea pointed out that the biggest magazines have mostly female editors and hire mostly male photographers and presented a few observations and thoughts about why this situations has arisen, none of which he claims to be exhaustive or anything more than his own experience: editors say they don’t know female photographers who fit their magazine’s style; men might be more aggressive in pursuing assignment work; collectives and loose organizations of photographers don’t do a good job of including women; men have an easier time assisting due to sexism and climbing the ranks that way. The whole post is worth a read. Another particularly troubling statistic that saw recently that likely has a profound affect: 64% of women journalists responding to a survey said they had experienced “intimidation, threats, or abuse” in the field or in the office. That study was conducted by the International Women’s Media Foundation.
Women In Photography also collects much of the rest of the conversation started by Shea and discussion about the conversation. There are responses by editors, photographers, and industry publications. Here’s a few I liked:
- Erin Patrice O’Brien had a great response stemming from a shoot with a mostly female crew which also includes a huuuuuggeee list of women photographers who are killing it (crossposted at APhotoEditor).
- Photo editor Jamie Goldenberg has a nice addition on the editing side of the conversation.
- Angie Smith took time to count the ratios of male photographers to women in issues from a bunch of magazines she had around, and the results were not good: 6:2, 9:1, 8:0, 11:3, 10:1, 12:0, 4:4, 8:1, 12:4, 5:4, 10:4.
- PDN has a nice roundup of thoughts on the issue.
- Also worth a read, Alexi Hobbs shares a short anecdote about how being mistaken for a woman caused an editor to contact him.
Firecracker does a great job finding and highlighting the work of European women photographers (featured on dvafoto previously), and offers an annual grant. There’s also the Women Photojournalists of Washington and their annual contest.
Buzzfeed also had a wonderful post a little while back: Women Are Covering The Hell Out Of The Syria War — So Why Haven’t You Noticed?
And check out the International Women’s Media Foundation.
While we’re on this subject, I imagine that we could have a very similar conversation about racial and ethnic diversity in the photo industry…