Creating Diversity in Photojournalism

Photograph by Susannah Ireland

Dear BPPA,

Women Photograph www.womenphotograph.com is a global database of 900+ female photographers set up by Daniella Zalcman as a response to editors saying that there weren’t any female photographers to hire. Last Saturday Women Photograph tweeted a criticism of the low number of female photographers who were featured in the BPPA exhibition. Anna responded “About 6 percent. (We now know it to be 9.3 percent) in the exhibition are women it’s not plenty, its not enough and its a depressing illustration of the industry as a whole” over the rest of the weekend there were 50 plus tweets directed at her and Women Photograph from BPPA members mainly with comments like “The wording is highly insulting”, “Its insulting to me personally” “This is not the fault of the BPPA” and “I am not sure we have the budget”. Our open letter was a response to this unhelpful attitude towards addressing the problem. These issues have been pointed out to the BPPA in the past and nothing has been done. It’s everyone’s responsibility to fix the problem.

Here are our suggestions for possible routes forward:

1: To create a safe space where people are able to voice criticism and are listened to. To include in the code of conduct a clause stating that sexism, racism and any prejudicial behaviour will not be tolerated.

2: To research how the World Press Photo competition increased its female entrants from 15 to 30 percent and see if any of those ways could work for the BPPA

3: To openly publish statistics on the number of female members and their representation in exhibitions and membership so we can measure outcomes to any ideas that have been executed.

4: To have more diverse categories when curating an exhibition so that it is wider than just news and encompasses a more varied range of photographic styles

Let’s move forward together,

Suzanne Plunkett, Anna Gordon and Susannah Ireland

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