Gender plays a minor role in cultural policy debates. There is no special programme by the Government or any other level of governance that supports female employment or career advancement. Still, the representation of women in cultural field as a whole is very high. Following World War II, women played and continue to play a leading role in the cultural field. The problem can be seen at another level: while women represent the majority of employees in the cultural sector, very few managerial positions are held by women in Serbia. In many museums across the country, women occupy a leading role, although less than half. In many municipalities in Serbia, the position of City Secretary for Culture, (or City Officer for Cultural, Educational & Social affairs – in smaller municipalities), is held by women. At the same time, on a broader scale, decision-making positions in culture are seen as weak and not so relevant having in mind small budgets and power. Thus, they are often easily left to women to show equality.
According to a 2017 research by the Institute for Cultural development (Milanović, Subašić, Opačić, 2017), in all of Serbia’s public cultural institutions there are 10.726 employees, out of which 58.9% is female. In state-owned institutions 56.6% (out of 2.289) is female; in provincial institutions of total 985 employees 53.6% is female, while women represent 60.2% of workforce in municipal institutions (out of 7.452). By the type of institutions: with 77,5% women are most prevalent in libraries ; 61.1% in galleries; 61% in conservation institutes; 60.1% in archives; 59,5% in museums; and males only dominate the workforce in theatres with 47.1% female employees.
However, when it comes to leadership roles, women directors only dominate in libraries and galleries (63,7% and 61,9% respectively), while in all other types of institutions men are usually managing – with theatres as low as 25,6%). Finally, the bigger the institution is, the less women are prone to be managers. In republican and provincial institutions women are managing less than one third of institutions (32,5% and 29,4% respectively) while 47% of municipal institutions have female directors.
When it comes to other cultural fields, there are particular genres and niches that are particularly problematic from the gender equality standpoint – like rock, punk and heavy metal music, theatre, film and television directing, post production, sound recording and editing etc. There have been particular efforts to address these genre specific inequalities. One of the awarded efforts is “Rock camp for girls” by the organisation Femix, which also researched the participation of women in rock and pop music (Nikolić, 2016). Several mentorship projects have been addressing female collaboration and support. In the field of museums, Balkan Museum Network has run a support programme WILD (Women’s International Leadership Development) for female leaders of cultural institutions.