Like Theatre, Like Dance

Blogged by Isabelle Vail “In 2013, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) partnered with the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) to conduct a study on the gender equity of leadership opportunities in the nonprofit American theater.”

Announced this summer by the A.C.T., the aforementioned initiative produced findings on the lack of female leadership in the top American theatres to results similar to the preliminary DDP findings. The study focused on three problem areas preventing females from assuming equitable leadership positions: Familiarity and Trust, Work-Life Balance, and Mentoring and Affordability.

The discussion of these areas acting as “barriers” is likely highly similar to reasons females struggle to lead in the dance world. Like theatre, dance is an all-encompassing passion and lifestyle. Women with children, who work to spend as much time as possible acting as mothers struggle to allocate time to moving up in dance leadership. It is not wonder the men, who feel less pressure to be full-time dads, assume these roles before women.

Similarly, with the leadership in the US large companies having been male for the past two centuries, it is likely that male board members and current leaders are eager to bring on the “unfamiliar,” or female collaboration.

Lastly, the mentoring required to generate a successful artistic leader is difficult, as women have not experienced the same control as men in the past, so male directors are needed to assist women who could move into their roles. Perhaps new focus on using the ballet mistress position to foster leadership skills, in addition to technique coaching, could act as a start to mentoring women in this area.

This study is not to be missed and shines a bright light onto areas that can be touched by the DDP.