CMU School of Drama

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chicago Theatre’s Gender Breakdown (It’s Not Good)

AMERICAN THEATRE: A new independent study shows that when it comes to gender parity, Chicago’s theatre scene still has room for improvement. Chicago-based artists Kay Kron and Mariah Schultz conducted the study as part of Kron’s master thesis at DePaul University. According to their findings, in the 2015-16 season, out of 250 plays at 52 theatres, 25 percent were written by women and 36 percent were directed by women.


John Yoerger said...

I mean I guess it is something to work on. The connotation of adding "It's Not Good" to the end of the article is part of the problem, in my opinion. There absolutely need to be more efforts towards pushing for diversity in the theatre in all areas, but publishing news articles about it isn't really doing anything but effectively shaming men for being men. I am not by any means arguing that there shouldn't be more women in the theatre (I frankly prefer them)... but there is something to be said about doing it and inciting action to make that happen versus toxic journalism that only contributes to attack theaters and professionals who are just trying to make them some good art. I guess I'm just frustrated that it seems more like this entire article was all about attacking men instead of promoting women in theatre. It just doesn't seem like the approach that will be most effective in solving what I do absolutely believe is a problem.

Julian Goldman said...

I’ve seen lots of articles confirming over and over again that there is a problematic gender gap in theatre, especially when it comes to directors, playwrights, and producers. I think we need to start doing a better job of really thinking about why that is and how we can change that. Is it because theaters are less likely to hire women as directors, and in turn, as this article discusses, fewer women as directors leads to fewer plays by women being produced (the fact that men aren’t as likely to direct plays by women being a problem of its own.) Or is it because women are less likely to feel welcome to apply for higher up positions. Or is it that women are put off by a sexist work environment (I know for a fact that this is often a problem in the scenery world). I think all of these are probably factors, and there are many other factors as well. To me, this article is just another piece of evidence of something that I already knew, the question is what are we going to do about it.

Emma Reichard said...

In other news, water is wet and the sun’s in the sky. I think most people can agree that the gender disparity in theatre is still alive and well, but it’s still good to be reminded. Plus, misogynists have a harder time denying raw data, though they will still try. But I think we’ve moved on to the point where we need to look at WHY this gender disparity still exists. And really, it all comes down to the hiring process. I read a very interesting article which hypothesized the reason why large corporate executives were predominantly male. It was because overwhelmingly men hired men. And since men had been the majority in these hiring positions for forever, it was a self-perpetuating cycle. It wasn’t that these men meant to do so (although sometimes they did), it was that naturally men assume other men are more qualified. I suspect the same thing to be happening in the world of theatre. And it’s certainly something to look into. How do artistic directors so about picking a season? How are the staff hired? How is the creative team hired? Is it mostly men doing the hiring? Like I said, it’s great to know a problem exists, but we need to address why it exists in order to do something about it.