Northfield, IL | March 31, 2020 | Dance Data Project® (DDP) today released its 2020 “Artistic and Executive Leadership Report.” Released on National Equal Pay Day, the report shows persistent inequity in pay among artistic directors of the “Top 50” U.S. ballet companies.

“Overall, women in the U.S. are still paid only 79 percent of what men earn,” said DDP Founder and President Liza Yntema.  “DDP’s work shows that gender inequity in the dance industry continues, and in fact is even more pronounced than in the general workforce.”

The study released today focuses on the 50 largest American dance companies by budget.  These companies account for total expenditures of approximately $636 million, with the largest companies, or “Top 10,” accounting for approximately $386 million of that total.

Previous DDP research, reported last year, showed that women artistic directors earned 62 cents and 68 cents for every dollar men earned in that position in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The new report shows that this imbalance continued in 2018, with women earning only 61 cents for every dollar men earn in in the artistic director position. Finally, the most recent information available to DDP shows that women currently earn an average of 63 cents for every dollar men earn as artistic director.

In addition to being underpaid compared to men, DDP’s study shows women are underrepresented in artistic leadership, holding only 25 percent of artistic director positions within the Top 50 companies. That number drops to 1/10 for the largest companies.

DDP’s latest report also reveals that inequities pervade all levels of the industry. “The largest ten companies account for over 60 percent of industry expenditures,” said Yntema, “But even within the remaining 40 companies in the Top 50, which operate with much more conservative budgets and compensate their leaders at a fraction of the Top 10’s salaries, there is a notable glass ceiling and underrepresentation, particularly among artistic directors.”

“Much to our surprise, our research of smaller ballet companies did not uncover more equitable practices,” explained Director of Research Isabelle Vail. “While sufficient data was not available to study these smaller companies in-depth, in future studies we plan to cast a wider net and include more of these regional companies that are bringing art to the average American.”

“Women in America are more and more becoming the primary or sole breadwinners in their families, including those who work in dance,” noted Yntema. “Especially as we face the economic upheaval of a pandemic, the need for gender equity is all the more apparent. The data shows we have a long way to go.”

To review DDP’s March social media campaign, “Telling #Herstory: Women and Ballet,” which unearths the rich history of a different female choreographer, artistic director, or founder in ballet daily, visit See the growing list of all of these women, produced in honor of Women’s History Month, on DDP’s Resources page.

The Artistic and Executive Leadership Report is DDP’s first replicated study of 2020. In April, DDP will release its updated “Fellowships, Competitions, and Initiatives Guide,” which will provide choreographers with a resource to find and apply for funding in 2020. Other resources and information are available on DDP’s Resources page, linked above.

Media Contact:

Hannah McCarthy |