In our Spring 2015 theatre preview, Shoshana Greenberg wrote that "Broadway
can be a disheartening place for women. Too few are represented as writers and
directors, and women’s stories don’t often make it to the stage." A new infographic from HowlRound, a commons by and for people who make performance, illustrates how Broadway is far from the only site where women in theatre are underrepresented. It is a national problem, and one that extends beyond the more visible scarcity of female directors, playwrights and protagonists.
Lighting designer Porsche McGovern crunched the data on theatre designers in the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) to look at how gender affects employment behind the stage. Her results? Women lag behind men in scenic design, lighting design, sound design and total positions. The most dramatic discrepancy is in sound design, where women filled only 8.8% of positions over five seasons, while men held 91.2%. The numbers are similarly poor in lighting design, where women filled 13.7% positions compared to the 86.3% that men did. Women outnumber men in only one category — costume design — where women accounted for 68.7% of overall positions and men 31.3%.
McGovern began her research project because she "wanted to know about ethnic and gender demographics among theatre designers," but was unable to collect enough self-identified demo information regarding race/ethnicity to be statistically representative. Thus, this particular report deals with only gender. McGovern chose organizations affiliated with LORT because she wanted to compare numbers from theatres across the country and operating under a common collective agreement with United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829.
For more details on McGovern’s research methods, read her piece in full.