This chapter attends to an unanticipated but important theme that emerged from the interviews – the political economy of gendered television production. This theme was manifest in the interviews in relation to two central aspects of the interviewees’ professional lives: First is the fact that children’s television is a professional territory inhabited mostly by women, or as Augustine (Portugal) put it: It’s a womans world. The second relates to these professionals’ perceptions of the implied audience of children’s television and the implications these perceptions have for their work. While seemingly unrelated, both themes have significant implications; first, for the gender representations constructed by producers and available to young viewers; and, second, both aspects are deeply rooted in and shaped by the institutional aspects of media systems, including the complex interrelationships between professional employment, audiences, production processes, policymakers, advertisers, and market forces.

No matter where in the world the producers called home, all agreed that children’s TV is a feminized profession. A quick glance at the meeting halls of the events where I conducted this study provided first-hand evidence that the majority of the participants were female, as was reflected in the composition of the sample of interviewees (two-thirds female). Thus, the global trend for feminization of media professions (i.e. the growing proportion of women in them1) is apparent, as well, in the more narrowly defined world of children’s TV. Interviewees’ various explanations for why this professional niche was particularly appropriate for women recall many scholars’ research findings and theorizing about this phenomenon. One line of explanation suggested by interviewees is that caring for children

is more of a female concern, as stated by Hanne (Norway): Women choose caring jobs and children’s television is more caring than economics, news, or sports. So, you can see the same pattern: Most of the people involved in children’s television are women. A similar argument was put forward by Eric (Canada): I think it is a way to balance the fact that there are so many men

working in media and other fields, and women are caring, and they are good in nurturing children, so it’s a good thing. The above two quotations suggest the argument that, first, the definition of femininity includes a capacity for caring, apparently lacking in masculinity, and that children’s television is an extension of the private sphere of child rearing and nurturing, as is evident in many professions dominated by women (e.g. education, nursing, social work). Many other interviewees provided evidence of having internalized this position as well. This was particularly evident among female Asian interviewees (e.g. from Pakistan, Malaysia, Nepal, Iran) who explained how children’s television was perceived as a legitimate professional area for women’s employment in societies were women’s presence in the work force was not necessarily always deemed to be acceptable. Another explanation offered for the dominant female presence in this

domain relates to the political economy of media employment. Hope (US), for example, provided a structural argument in addition to the nurturing one: [It] started coming about twenty-five years ago when it was a fairly young industry, so women who came in at the bottom as I did, as somebody’s secretary, were able to move up in the ranks. This explanation too, is not unique to the television industry: Women find it much easier to move up the ladder in young organizations with a yet-to-be established tradition of male domination. Thus, based on evidence gathered from this global collection of media pro-

fessionals, the relegation of women to specific areas of employment – a process known as “horizontal segregation” – is much more evident in the area of children’s TV, in comparison with other departments of television such as news or prime-time programming. This phenomenon has its consequences, as Silvia (Germany) indicated: The Children’s Department is heavily dominated by women . . . [this is]not the same in the other departments; entertainment for example. I think this is because it’s easier for women to get access to that group, because it is considered a female area . . . they would not say so, but we have lower status . . . the budget, the wages for salaries, especially for freelancers . . . That the feminization of media professions is associated with lower status and

income, as well as less permanent contracts, has been documented before (as is the case in the feminization of other professions – such as education, administration, or family medicine), and its discussion is not within the scope of the present book. Yet evidence of this significant phenomenon leads to more general political-economy concerns related to the interlocking relations of gender and money,2 including their impact on the field of television for children more generally (e.g. global phenomena of limited governmental support and low budgets) as well as to the material conditions of women working in this domain of media practice. Furthermore, there is additional employment segregation along some

marked lines within the children’s TV world. Interviewees agreed that while women occupy most of the roles of producers, developers of content, and

consultants, they remain a minority among those who actually convert these ideas into television programs; that is, those in the technological and production professions – such as directors, camera and sound professionals, as well as program directors. Megan (Canada) related her personal employment history: There are more women producers than men producers, but there are far less women directors. When I was a multi-camera director, I was one of the only three across the country. At the same time there were probably twentyfive, thirty men . . . In trying to account for this difference, she continued: I think that it’s easier for women to get into producing because it’s the organizational part, for the most part, and women are perceived to be great organizationally. When you are a multi-camera director, you’re in charge of the whole crew and the crew is quite often mainly men. The camera guys are still men; the sound people are still men; all the technicians, yeah, so you have to be a strong woman in order to have them listen and respect what you do. And so women, for whatever reason, don’t even want to go down that path, they don’t want to fight those fights. Thus, while organizational and contentoriented roles are more “women friendly” and deemed more in line with feminine traits and skills, the technical ones have been historically male dominated and thus more difficult to infiltrate and flourish in. Most notably, argued many interviewees, the world of animation, which dominates the industry and perpetuates many of the problematic stereotypes, remains mostly a male world, as very few animation artists are women. Indeed, the animation guild reports that women represent only 10 percent of its membership.3