The following is a report on the gender distribution of leaders within the Top 50 domestic companies’ Boards of Directors and Boards of Trustees. The data is separated into two subsections: Chair Gender Distribution and Executive Committee Gender Distribution. DDP cites sources and expresses limitations at the end of the report.Download the June 2019 Report
Announcements about the Dance Data Project™ including new research, upcoming initiatives, additions to the team, and other exciting news.
DDP has spent the last year or so thinking about the most strategic way to move the needle in terms of women’s leadership in classical ballet. While our focus has been the world of dance, the same thoughts apply to women and minority representation in film, opera, symphonic music, museums, and frankly, any not-for-profit organization.
As I sit in boardrooms with trustees of foundations or listen in the back as board members blithely accept that all male panels of experts are the norm, I have become increasingly frustrated with the status quo and even more committed to changing it.
It is not enough to simply donate money to a female-led production. These are often one-and-done, or, as I have begun to realize, their funds don’t actually go to support the female artist. Instead, she is frequently given the leftovers of casting, rehearsal time, costumes, pay, venue and touring.
A recent conversation with a supremely talented West Coast investment advisor, who has been transformational in leading the charge for more women in finance, reinforced my growing suspicion that, in the dance world, seeing the inequity in numbers just isn’t sufficient.
Clearly, numbers do matter – but they aren’t enough. Dance Data Project™’s original research should eliminate the arguments offered by male dance leaders (critics, senior staff, resident choreographers and board members) who refuse to recognize there is a problem.
DDP can demonstrate the inequity all day long, cite statistics that women-led productions are extremely popular with audiences and, more broadly, refer to study after study demonstrating that management teams with female representation make better decisions.
All this evidence from our research is critical. At the end of the day, however, all the rational argument in the world cannot stand against entrenched beliefs.
Men hire men. Once women are hired into an organization, they receive less support and fewer resources than men. See McKinsey & Company’s Women in the Workplace 2018. The study found that people (even women) trust men’s decision making more than women’s, even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary.
Another critical article is by Aneeta Rattan, Siri Chilazi, Oriane Georgeac, and Iris Bohnet. “Tackling the Underrepresentation of Women in Media” highlights the important lessons leadership can learn from BBC’s 50:50 Project. Journalist Ros Atkins addressed the distinction between the roles of confronter and bystander in the workplace. When making a change in diversity and representation of women, one must ask oneself, “What can I do differently?” Atkins and other interviewees teach us that change can be made through a combination of self-awareness, clear goals and teamwork, data collection, and their verifiable outcomes that alter the field beyond our immediate workplace.
Like the vast majority of ballet companies and dance organizations, DDP is made up of a largely-female team, and I, as its leader, am proud to act as a confronter in a field that is thronged with bystanders.
So, this begs the question: What other actions will be effective to change ballet as an industry?
There is one clear avenue to incite change: advocate for political and economic pressure through an informed donor base, whether that base be supported by individuals, corporations or foundations.
This is why Dance Data Project™ is establishing our first advocacy platform to publicly encourage board, foundation and donor education and responsibility.
Below are questions every donor should ask:
Board of Trustees/Directors:
- Has the organization had a female or other diverse minority chairman?
- Outside of the traditional minority and female committees (such as Community Relations or Marketing), are there women (and trustees or board members of color) on the Strategic Planning, Audit, Finance, and Governance committees?
- What is the gender and racial diversity of the c-suite positions beyond the traditionally female roles like Director of Development or Community Relations/Engagement?
- Are women entrusted with roles involving financial decision making, like CFO/CEO?
- In arts organizations, are women truly leading, or have they been hired to solely lead and shape the organization’s artistic vision?
- Will the organization commit to pay equity and transparency in order to ensure equal pay for women with the same job as men?
- Will the organization share this data publicly?
Internal Policies – Sexual Harassment, Mandatory Arbitration, & Parental Leave:
- What is the organization’s policy on dealing with sexual harassment complaints?
- Is there an independent reporting mechanism?
- Has the organization committed to eliminating mandatory arbitration clauses that remove litigation as an option for employees who have been harassed?
- What is the organization’s written policy on parental leave and health care around women’s issues?
- What percentage of the artists for main stage productions are women (and/or minorities)? This should include set, lighting and costume designers, as well as original composers.
- Will the organization pledge to eliminate manels (all-male panels of experts who opine on and interpret work for audiences)?
- What is the company’s track record of commissioning women and minorities? Do these women and minorities receive repeat commissions?
- If there is a program dedicated to developing more women and minority artists in-house, how is success measured?
- What is leadership’s plan to bring women and minorities to main stage productions?
- Will women’s work be supported by touring, receiving original costumes, adequate rehearsal/studio time and casting choices?
- If a donor contributes to support a female led production, how much of his or her money will actually go to support the woman’s work?
To learn more about philanthropy in general, specifically issues in philanthropy and how women are changing the field through giving circles and financial techniques like social impact investing, search for resources like Kiersten Marek’s wonderful website or check out Inside Philanthropy:
For an excellent discussion of ending sexual harassment at not-for-profits, see the April 2018 issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
To become part of the women’s empowerment movement in philanthropy (male allies included), see the following:
- Julie Castro Abrams’s How Women Lead, which advocates for fair gender representation on boards, whether for-profit or philanthropic.
To learn about initiatives that focus specifically on women and their money, have a much deeper understanding of how women give and how they prioritize philanthropic investments, visit:
The following is a report on the gender distribution of choreographers in the upcoming seasons of the 50 largest ballet companies in the United States that have been reported so far this year (38 out of 50 as of May 23, 2019). The data is separated into subsections, focusing on different aspects of the distribution of male and female choreographic work included in the upcoming seasons. DDP cites sources and discusses limitations and important disclaimers at the end of the report.
Encouraging Women to Apply for Choreographic Opportunities is Key
The Dance Data Project™ (DDP) www.dancedataproject.com released its second report today, aimed at addressing gender inequities in the ballet world. DDP published a comprehensive listing of ballet choreographic scholarships, fellowships and competitions to simplify the application process for female artists seeking support for their work. The report provides critical information such as application deadlines, eligibility requirements, and compensation, which can include a stipend or other financial support, dancer provision, studio space, costuming, and other key resources. DDP launched a report in February to address gender inequities in leadership positions and pay in the country’s 50 largest ballet companies. Although women are the economic drivers of ballet at every level, few career avenues exist for them in ballet beyond dancing or teaching.
“We want women artists to be aware of these opportunities. We heard from ballet company artistic directors and senior staff that women just don’t apply in the same numbers as men, often because they are unaware of what is out there. They do not have the network that men enjoy,” said DDP Founder & President Liza Yntema. “We hope by providing a global, easy to use resource on our website with a month-by-month calendar of deadlines to facilitate applications, more women will apply for these programs.”
Most of these fellowships, scholarships, or competition prizes, which are training pipelines for artistic director and lucrative choreographer positions, go to men. DDP staff members recently conducted a Listening Tour, visiting ballet companies around the United States. They found that women are less likely than men to advocate for their own work by applying for large grants, competitions or resident fellowships.
The second DDP report also includes discussion of Tara Sophia Mohr’s article for the Harvard Business review, entitled “Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified,” and Alyssa Rapp’s post “Feminism In The Era Of Millennials: It’s About Leaping Versus Leaning” for Forbes. Mohr’s article revealed women’s lack of confidence and hesitancy to apply for jobs unless they meet 100 percent of requirements, whereas men will apply if they meet 60 percent of listed attributes. To DDP, Rapp expanded on her words for Forbes, saying women choreographers should “surround themselves with advocates…don’t be afraid to ask for help. It might make all the difference in your life.” DDP is planning future programming around confidence building seminars for women that include practical tips for putting together applications. “DDP will also collect and publish data on what percentage of women actually win these competitions or are granted fellowships or scholarships,” said Yntema. “If we find a continuing trend of awarding the lion’s share of resources to male applicants, DDP will call out the committees making the final determinations.”
DDP Founder Liza Yntema paid a visit to American Ballet Theatre last week, meeting again with visionary Executive Director Kara Medoff Barnett . The company’s Women’s Movement is taking off with full support at all levels of the major company. Details will soon follow on our website.
Read more about the Women’s Movement on the ABT website here.
On April 2, Dance Data Project’s founder, Liza Yntema, appeared on Business First AM to discuss DDP’s advocacy for equitable salaries and opportunity for women in dance. Ms. Yntema highlighted the companies leading the way and smaller cities where companies are going above-and-beyond, advocating beyond their regional status. Our recent findings, available in our February Executive and Artistic Leadership Report , were at the forefront of the discussion.
Watch the clip below and learn more about Liza around our website!
The Dance Data Project™ launched today with the first of a series of reports documenting gender inequity in leadership positions and pay among the 50 largest ballet companies in the United States. George Balanchine, the legendary Artistic Director and Founder of the New York City Ballet once said, “Everywhere else men are first. But in ballet, it’s the woman.” However in 2019, DDP™ found men are first in ballet when it comes to leadership positions and pay even though the ballet world is overwhelming populated by women and they
are the economic drivers as well.
Pictured from right to left: Patricia Barretto, CEO of Harris Theater Chicago, Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of the English National Ballet, DDP Founder Liza Yntema, and New York Times dance writer Marina Harss at the Guggenheim’s Works & Process.
DDP is interested in dialogue with artistic and executive leadership promoting women and their interests. Our founder, Liza Yntema, has begun a listening tour, visiting on behalf of Dance Data Project at leading domestic companies. Previously, Ms. Yntema visited the ABT for its inaugural choreographic Incubator, as well as attending the Guggenheim’s Works & Process featuring Marina Harss, Patricia Barretto and Tamara Rojo discussing the English National Ballet’s new Giselle by Akram Khan. After a stop at BalletX in Philadelphia, Liza has learned more about their Choreographic Fellowship, and her interview with Artistic Director Christine Cox will appears in a feature for the DDP News page. She intends to familiarize herself with each major company’s culture, while working to advance those companies with DDP’s mission of gender equity in all aspects of classical dance.Read more
DDP will be publishing aggregate data analyzing the 2018-2019 ballet season. In early 2018, Dance Data Project developed its proprietary Self Report Form. Comprised of a series of 80 questions, the Form is meant to capture the representation of women in a company’s artistic team (including choreographers, designers, composers), executive and board-level leadership, as well as details surrounding initiatives intended to empower aspiring choreographers. By collecting data directly from the source – the dance company – we will be able to record and analyze data not previously available to the public in aggregate form.
Reach out to us to learn more about our mission.