The MMIAM Journey

A blog about the Master of Management
in International Arts Management program

Gender Pay Gap in the Early-Stage Careers of Canadian Creative Workers (Abridged)

The gender wage gap, as well as the treatment of sex differences, are widely documented and discussed in the overall labour market. However, less is known about this issue in cultural and creative markets, whose employment conditions differ from those in other labour markets. In the cultural economics literature, the topic of the gender pay gap has been analysed according to two different angles. The first angle, which has an extensive tradition in art market studies, analyses how gender affects prices in the art market. The second angle, which is more recent and less developed, considers the role of women in the cultural and creative sectors, which is understudied in traditional labour economics. The traditional analysis does not adequately focus on the role of women in these kinds of jobs, be they secure or precarious, economically satisfying or poorly paid.

In cultural and creative markets, employment conditions lack stability, and many of the jobs are “hidden” because of part-time, unpaid and/or portfolio work conditions, demonstrating the “heterodox” economies that characterize artistic work. Additionally, the behaviour of artists and creative workers is influenced by non-monetary benefits that determine employment choices that are inconsistent with the traditional expectations of labour supply theory. Workers employed in cultural and creative markets are more likely to have multiple jobs than in other professions. These characteristics are likely to be exacerbated in the early stages of careers, when young artists and creators have to juggle different creative and non-creative jobs to be financially sustainable, meaning that specific singularities could emerge.

The aim of the paper is to investigate the existence of a gender pay gap in the creative sector, focusing on the early-stage careers of creative workers, where the gender pay gap is expected to display (this is the hypothesis the paper is based on) specific singularities. To this end, we use data derived from the “Young People Making a Living in the Creative Industries” research project, which was conducted from April to September 2016.

The analysis research shows the existence of the gender pay gap. Specifically, decomposing gender salary differences, a gender pay gap emerges, due to unexplained differences in the observable characteristics of workers.

“Woman playing a concert on sound mixer”. Credit: Marcelo Chagas on Pexels.

The findings paint an intriguing and somewhat surprising picture of the Canadian creative job market. Specifically, the analysis underscores that the income gap between women and men can be largely attributed to disparities in endowments i.e. the part of differential due to group difference in the predictors.

Interestingly, these differences in innate characteristics account for the significant role they play in explaining the observed income gap. However, notably absent from the analysis is any substantial evidence of discrimination contributing to the disparity. Nevertheless, women in the creative sectors continue to face challenges that threaten their progress compared to their male counterparts. These difficulties can be attributed to cultural factors that perpetuate gender-based inequality.

Building upon the findings of this study, it is evident that the creative labour markets exhibit greater levels of fairness and equality compared to traditional labor markets, as they do not explicitly discriminate against female workers based on their gender. However, this does not mean that women in the creative industries are completely free from obstacles. It merely indicates that gender-based discrimination is less prevalent in these specific sectors.


IMPORTANT: note that this article contains scientific references that we have omitted to lighten the text. Please consult the original article if you wish to quote excerpts.

Contact us at to request a free copy of the full article published in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 26, Number 3, Spring 2024.

You can also browse our abridged research articles here.