On the cultural demand side, the most recent: ISTAT multipurpose survey (2014) shows that women are relatively well placed in the participation rate for some cultural activities: they actually are slightly more frequent book readers than men (48% versus 34% respectively), and are more frequent theatre goers (21% to 17%). On the other hand, they are less frequent cinema goers (46 % against 49%), while attendance at classical music concerts is equally low for both sexes (9%). Participation rates for women are lower for TV watching and for reading newspapers, at 42% against 53%.
Women are also quite discriminated in the cultural labour market. In fact, female intellectuals and artists often have a hard time making a living in cultural occupations, notably in the performing arts where, according to ENPALS data, they earn on average about 1/3 less, and tend to be dismissed after their forties. Music is the cultural field in which women are least represented, whereas they are doing better in journalism, and often dominate in some of the less paid humanistic professions (librarians, archaeologists, etc.) However, the situation is gradually improving, as the trend in women’s employment in the cultural field has been quite positive in recent years: according to the last available ISTAT data, their ratio increased from 34% of the total cultural occupations in 1993 to 43% in 2010.
As far as employment in MiBACT is concerned, women are, generally speaking, well represented: as a matter of fact, around 54% of the employed are women, frequently occupying the highest offices. They are to be found, though, much more frequently in the heritage offices than in the performing arts.
In the latter domain, in general, women have been until now quite poorly represented, in particular among gatekeepers in key theatrical and musical institutions like the “Fondazioni liriche”. Only one out of the fourteen “sovrintendenti” heading the fondazioni liriche is actually a woman. The same was true until recently for the cultural industries. In the latter sector, though, with Marina Berlusconi, President of Mondadori – the main Italian publishing house – and Monica Maggioni President of RAI, women are now holding some of the highest positions in the Italian media.
On the other hand, research carried out in 2006 by the Foundation “Donne in Musica” and CENSIS on the representation of women’s image in the media, showed how unfair and stereotyped this representation still was in Italian TV programmes. Things got worst in the subsequent years, giving way to heated lobbying in defence of female dignity by the Committee Women in the media. As a first positive result, the Radio-Television Service Contract 2011-2012, entrusted RAI with the task of monitoring in its programmes “the enforcement of peer opportunities among genders…and the appropriateness of female representation…by avoiding stereotypes such as women as objects“.