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The 2018 League of Professional Theatre Women Awards. (Photo by Ashley Garrett)

Study Shows Women Still Under-Employed Off-Broadway

The League of Professional Theatre Women report reveals that aside from costuming and stage management, many production jobs are still not close to gender parity.

NEW YORK CITY: The League of Professional Theatre Women has released a new study counting the number of women hired Off-Broadway. The report, titled Women Count: Women Hired Off-Broadway, shows that in 699 productions from 2010 to 2017, women were underrepresented in all areas of theatre production, save for costuming and stage management. The complete study, which is the first LPTW has done since 2015, can be read here.

“We notice that the world is unequal, that women’s voices are muted, that women aren’t present on production teams,” said Martha Wade Steketee, who co-wrote the study with Judith Binus, in a statement. “The Women Count report is about the power of numbers to augment advocacy; using solid information to change the world.”

The study analyzes the seasons of 23 producing companies, using the playbills from those theatres. In terms of job breakdowns, female playwright representation ranged from a low of 29 percent (in the 2013-14 season) to a high of 37 percent (in the 2016-17 season). Similarly, female director representation ranged from 24 to 40 percent, set designers 21 to 35 percent, lighting designers 8 to 21 percent, and sound designers 16 to 21 percent. By contrast, costume designers ranged from 64 to a 79 percent female; production stage managers, stage managers, and assistant stage managers held steady at around 70 percent throughout the seasons included in the report.

“Having numbers to point to gives us power in meetings with people who are in a position to hire,” said Binus in a statement. “They can’t discount numbers, facts, or figures. The numbers prove and quantify an issue, and the LPTW has responded with advocacy initiatives to effect change and move towards gender parity.”

The study also includes a list of the female theatre workers mostly frequently employed Off-Broadway during the report period. For instance, the most produced female playwright was Lucy Thurber, with seven stagings in as many seasons, and the female director who got hired the most was Leigh Silverman (15 productions).

To increase the study’s visibility and to advocate for gender parity, the League will host a Women Count March on June 12, beginning at the Circle in the Square Theatre.

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