Why is it that women in VFX with equal qualifications, skills and experience are paid less than men?

After last summer’s BBC report sparked an uproar on gender pay gap there has be a new surge on finding out what really is the gap. But that’s the BBC, surely the Visual Effects Industry is nothing like that, right?!

Unfortunately that is not the case. These are the official reports:

 

Double Negative

“Women’s mean* hourly rate is 19.8% lower than men’s
when comparing mean hourly rates, women earn 80p for every £1 that men earn.
Women’s median** hourly rate is 22.8% lower than men’s
when comparing median hourly rates, women earn 77p for every £1 that men earn.”

 

Framestore


“Women’s mean hourly rate is 14% lower than men’s
when comparing mean hourly rates, women earn 86p for every £1 that men earn.
Women’s median hourly rate is 16.4% lower than men’s
when comparing median hourly rates, women earn 84p for every £1 that men earn.”

Industrial Light & Magic


“Women’s mean hourly rate is 25.5% lower than men’s
when comparing mean hourly rates, women earn 74p for every £1 that men earn.
Women’s median hourly rate is 29.2% lower than men’s
when comparing median hourly rates, women earn 71p for every £1 that men earn.”

Moving Picture Company

“Women’s mean hourly rate is 23.8% lower than men’s
when comparing mean hourly rates, women earn 76p for every £1 that men earn.
Women’s median hourly rate is 28.3% lower than men’s
when comparing median hourly rates, women earn 72p for every £1 that men earn.”

These were the large VFX companies in the UK that provided the data (all companies in the UK with 250 employees or more are required by law to provide gender pay gap data) – smaller studios were not required by law to provide this data. In their reports, each of the four companies above – except ILM – made pledges of bridging the gap by taking different steps such us diversity promotion and supporting women – yet none of them addressed the real issue – why are women in VFX getting paid less than men?

After all these reports and pledges, will companies act on that and start paying their female staff equally? Will they address the underlying problems in VFX that make this disparity possible? We will have to wait until the next report for hard evidence of their intentions. In the meantime, it is time to face up to facts in the visual effects industry and for us all to keep up the pressure for facilities to do something about their gender pay gap problem. BECTU, the VFX Union is committed to equality in the workplace. By joining the union you can support this cause and help make the VFX industry a stronger and more ethical industry.

Need inspiration? Here’s a couple of things to pump you up! Take a few minutes to watch Stacey Smith’s TED talk in 2016 and Frances McDormand’s 2018 Oscar acceptance speech which taught the world a new phrase: inclusion rider***.

Can the UK VFX facilities come up with an “inclusion rider” of their own? The VFX Union wants to see men and women paid equally based on their skills and experience and not their gender. By organising together, we can make this happen!

*The mean hourly rate is the average hourly wage across the entire organization so the mean gender pay gap is a measure of the difference
between women’s mean hourly wage and men’s mean hourly wage.
**The median hourly rate is calculated by ranking all employees from the highest paid to the lowest paid,
and taking the hourly wage of the person in the middle; so the median gender pay gap is the difference
between women’s median hourly wage (the middle paid woman) and men’s median hourly wage (the middle paid man).
*** “An “inclusion rider” is a clause that an actor can insist be inserted in their contract that requires cast and crew on a film to meet a certain level of diversity. ” (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/mar/05/what-is-an-inclusion-rider-frances-mcdormand-oscars-2018)

Resources:
Official goverment website:
https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/
DNeg
https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/viewing/employer-details?e=xrdzedeG52P3mfCmvaBqlA%21%21
ILM
https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/viewing/employer-details?e=FIy5v1XTqqQ2F676WWpOSA%21%21
Moving Picture Company
https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/viewing/employer-details?e=Cc0NmCM8lWxaU2jm99ChnA%21%21
Framestore
https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/viewing/employer-details?e=Hrcq2dhRWi7ID_u7z62LxQ%21%21

  • anon

    Your headline asks “Why is it that women in VFX with equal qualifications, skills and experience are paid less than men?” but the data say nothing about qualifications, skills or experience.

    • Noel Mahoney

      Everyone needs the same qualifications (always listed in job descriptions), experience and skills to get said jobs though? That’s how you get the job.

      • anon

        This data is across the entire company though, its not within the same role. Typically it is a result of men occupying higher positions within the company, on average, than women (note the government data does not confirm this, but its almost certainly the cause).

        Now, with that in mind, we can have a discussion about the gap in seniority between men and women, and actually make some progress. But the headline as it stands is misleading and leads discussion down the wrong path.

        • Noel Mahoney

          While that is true and that it’s still not possible to acquire exact details publicly it is divided up to different pay scales which are top, upper middle, lower middle and lower quartile. Usually certain roles should fit in to these certain pay scales depending on the level of expertise, role complexity and the demand needed for the role etc. I think it is sensible to surmise that most artist roles will fall in to the lower to upper middle categories. Then senior/managerial roles fall into the upper category.

          Yes, it is difficult to determine the exact difference between specific roles in VFX as nobody will have access to that information unless you are in HR in that specific company. However you cannot deny that this is a problem with such considerable differences in these stats along with the exposure going on in the media regarding of women coming out about being paid far less than male counterparts.

  • Ambrose Mcduffy

    This is ridiculous for anyone who’s ever played around with datasets this is very vague to say the lease.

    Sensation rules the world now in days.

    1.) Can you pull up the stats that state the roles men, and women are assigned to in correlation to how much they are getting paid.

    For-Example, Match-Move Artist, Concept artist, and Compositor in correlation to how much they are getting paid.

    2.) Years of experience, and job role.

    3.) Number of women applying for those jobs, and women who currently have them.

    4.) Most of all negotiation skills. Did any of the women in these roles negotiate for a higher salary in comparison to men.

  • FactFinderVFX

    What about Bectu /Prospect Union’s Gender Pay Gap? https://library.prospect.org.uk/download/2018/00538