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Home > About > News and Events > News > Field News > HowlRound Reports on Women's Leadership in Theater

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HowlRound Reports on Women's Leadership in Theater

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Sep 07, 2016

Expanding on past research that notes the paucity of female and POC leadership positions in the theater community, HowlRound has published new findings on why so few women hold leadership positions and how the pipeline can be improved.

Some of the issues that need to be addressesed by the field in order to advance leadership by women and people of color in the theater community include:

Familiarity and trust – According to HowlRound, “Hidden behind a gender- and race-neutral job description is an expectation, grounded in a stereotype, of what a theatre leader needs to look like: white and male, because white and male leaders have been the long-standing majority of those in top positions. Expecting an artistic or executive leader to be a particular type is a subtle but strong bias when evaluating a slate of candidates.” To make any progress, those biases need to be acknowledged and corrected for. Recommendations for improving the search process include:

  • Engage in a self-examination of hiring practices before starting a new recruitment process
  • Enlist diverse search committee
  • Conduct an external search alongside internal consideration
  • Ensure that women and candidates of color are in the interview pool
  • When interviewing candidates for an artistic director position, look for skill and enthusiasm for speaking in front of a variety of large and small groups, relationship building skills, and willingness to support development efforts

Work-Life Balance – “Requirements for a successful life in the theatre (which may include extensive travel, and long and irregular hours) can be barriers to participation for caregivers (who are mostly women) and more importantly operate as hidden biases, which quietly affect the hiring or promotion process.”

Read other recommendations related to culture/fit, mentoring, and more at HowlRound.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.