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Research reports and writings on Gender Equity in Theatre

On this page we'll be placing links to Research reports, studies  and relevant public statements illustrating the problem of gender inequity in many theatre programmes.

** If you would like to have other research reports and articles added please send an email to


The Fawcett Society Sex and Power 2018 report calls for Quotas in the theatre industry employment. 

The Guardian
Article by Julia Pascal, UK theatre Director and Playwright calls for quotas in theatre industry and boards of arts organisations in The Guardian

League of Professional Theatre Women - Women Count 2018 report

Quote: “Having numbers to point to gives us power in meetings with people who are in a position to hire. 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.” - Judy Binus

Quote: Women playwrights represented in the study theatres range from season lows of 29% in 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 to a season high of 37% in 2016-2017. 

Playwrights Guild of Canada ( PGC)  Annual Theatre Production Survey, 2016/17

Gender Breakdown of Authorship for the 2016/17 Theatre Season

Number of Productions -by Men 515 (64%)
Number of Productions by Women 211 (26%)
Number of Productions by Mixed Gender Partnerships 78 (10%)

Download Report PDF


Australian Writers Guild ( AWG)  Magazine - The National Voice 
Surveyed 10 theatres across Australia, including state theatres. 


A comprehensive overview of gender equity history in theatre.

For those not familiar with the history of campaigning and publicity surrounding the lack of equality for female dramatists in professional theatres around the world - this article by Jenny Lyn Bader makes compelling reading and is highly recommended, for its thorough but concise summary of research, reports, publications and opinions in the 20th and 21st Centuries. 

Women In Theatre Journal 
A Brief History of the Gender Parity Movement in Theatre by Jenny Lyn Bader



#WakingTheFeminists publish Research Report into lack of gender equality in Irish theatre.

An Chomhairle Ealaíon, #WakingTheFeminists commissioned groundbreaking research into the gender balance in Irish theatre.

The research was conducted by a team of six researchers led by Dr. Brenda Donohue, in collaboration with Irish Theatre Institute and the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance at NUI Galway. Their work looks at key creative roles in ten of the top Arts Council-funded theatre organisations in the country over a ten year period from 2006-15.


" #WakingTheFeminists began as a campaign for equality for women in Irish theatre in late 2015. The movement was given form by an unprecedented outpouring of personal testimony from hundreds of women working across allareas of Irish theatre – directors, designers, authors, actors, stage managers, technicians, and more. It became apparent straight away that no research existed to provide context or analysis for these experiences; however the sheer volume of eloquently outraged stories allowed us to create a campaign that cut through the Irish cultural world like a knife. Through these voices, the power of the campaign took on a life of its own, touching not only the theatre, but affecting the whole cultural community, as we asked things like – what stories does our culture tell about us, whose stories get told, and who chooses those stories?"

Click below to download a PDF copy of the research report

Gender Counts: An analysis of gender in Irish theatre 2006-15



French Organisation " Ou Sont Les Femmes? " ( Where are the women?) Collects Data to monitor gender equality in the Arts and Culture in France. The answer is - still not there. 

Their specific data on Theatres is troubling. Despite Government " Roadmaps" and regulations designed to rebalance gender diversity in TV and Theatre, the figures are still shockingly biased towards males, in particular, against female writers for the stage. 

Read more here




DTC Theatre Company shows the way to gender equity for female playwrights and theatre - in 2017 season.

"Not only has DTC's changed attitude manifested in their 2017 programming, but DTC also offered invaluable in-kind support to give a platform to Sydney's best Independent female theatre-makers by housing WITS' inaugural women's theatre festival, Festival Fatale, in October this year. DTC has set an impressive example for the rest of the industry, and showed that with initiative, parity can happen almost instantly."

Read More


A Canadian theatre company named fu-Gen Asian Canadian Theatre created a list called “The 49.” It focuses specifically on women of colour, and it offers 49 plays “that you can program tomorrow.”

The Kilroys List for 2016

The Kilroys were founded in 2013, They are named after the iconic graffiti tag “Kilroy Was Here” that was first left by WWII soldiers in unexpected places, a playfully subversive way of making their presence known.

Each year they publish a list of outstanding unproduced plays by female writers, as a response to Artistic Directors' commnets that it was hard to find good plays written by female playwrights. 

Purple Seven New Audience Profiling Tool - Report using 2012-15 Data

"Key Findings Female customers account for 65% of ticket revenue, but only 39% of actors, 36% of directors and 28% of writers of plays performed are women. 

Male playwrights write 37% of parts for women, while female playwrights write for 60% female casts 

Critics award more 4 and 5 star ratings to plays with casts of their own gender 

Male Directors and Writers command bigger stages and higher ticket prices 

The proportion of female directors has increased by 5% since 2012 

Florence Hope Data Scientist, Purple Seven.

Read the full PDF report here

Australian Writers Guild Survey

The Australian Writers’ Guild’s The National Voice report is an annual survey and analysis of programming trends across Australia’s 10 major theatre companies. Undertaken by the Playwrights’ Committee of the Australian Writers’ Guild. 

In a recent survey they found some important indicators concerning the career opportunities for Australian writers, and commented on the gender disparity in theatre productions -

"Gender parity: 2016 reveals an increase in the disparity between the programming of male-authored and female-authored work. In 2015, of the 58 works by Australian playwrights (including original and adapted works), 57% were by men, and 43% by women. In 2016, the comparative percentage is 61% (male) and 39% (female) across all programmed works, both original and adaptations."

Read the full PDF report here

July 2015


Julia Jordan and Marsha Norman reveal the results of " The Count" - an ongoing tally of works by womne playwrights produced by professional theatres in the USA . The results of " The Count " for the previous 3 years shows plays by women playwrights were produced 22% of the time.

July 2015 



Melody Brooks - interviewed by Emeline Jouve, « Promoting Gender Equity on the American Stage (2): 50/50 in 2020  », Miranda [Online], 11 | 2015, Online since 24 July 2015, connection on 24 October 2015. URL :

June 2015


7 Steps For Achieving Gender Equity in Theatre - by Martha Richards -Womenarts

May 2015 


"Breaking up the Canadian theatre boys’ club..."

Kate Taylor Feature Article
"...speaking of an outrage that will not be silenced until arts organizations and cultural industries do better."

May 2015 


Sydney: playwright gender ratio discussed and found wanting. 

Read more here:

25 April 2015


The Guardian, UK - Press report of the conference Cutting Edge: British Theatre in Hard Times,

"In 10 years nothing has changed for female playwrights – it’s time to act"
A decade ago, 30% of new plays produced in UK theatres were written by women. In 2013 it was 31%. How can we ensure real change in gender equality?

Lucy Kerbel of Tonic Theatre, which has been in the forefront of trying to instigate change, noted that she had never been to a theatre gathering that was not specifically about gender where the issue was raised so much. But of course it’s only right that it is. If we’re going to bring about real change in theatre then gender equality and diversity have to be part of the conversation all of the time, not just on specific occasions, otherwise we are only ghettoising it. 

Read the full article here

22 April 2015


Equity in Theatre (EIT) Announces Recent Research Study

(TORONTO, ON – April 22, 2015) Equity in Theatre (EIT) is pleased to announce the release of its recent research study, “Achieving Equity in Canadian Theatre: A Report with Best Practice Recommendations,” by Dr. Michelle MacArthur.

Equity in Theatre is a multi-pronged and multi-stakeholder initiative designed to help redress and rectify existent gender inequities in the theatre industry.

As a first step, EIT engaged Dr. Michelle MacArthur to generate a preparatory research study, the purpose of which is two-fold:

  1. to provide an update on the current status of women in Canadian theatre; and,
  2.  to analyze past equity initiatives and related follow-up actions at home and abroad, in theatre and elsewhere, culminating in a series of “best practice” recommendations.
The idea with this is to ensure that we do not repeat past mistakes or waste time reinventing the wheel, but rather that we capitalize on successful gains and maximize our impact.

The report’s findings will serve as a foundational framework for EIT as it moves forward, for instance, informing the proceedings of the upcoming Symposium, and pointing the way toward possible future actions. It is our hope that the EIT report will serve as a source of inspiration, and act as a catalyst ­for change, for individuals and institutions, in the theatre sector and beyond.

Are you wondering how women fare in the current climate, and what can be done to help improve the situation? Check out the EIT report to find out! You can view the study in its entirety, or peruse a four-page Executive Summary with Study Highlights, by visiting the EIT website at:

With this report, and a new online presence, Equity in Theatre will continue to foster dialogue on an (inter)national scale, develop social actions that will help effect change, and generate greater awareness of and exposure to Canadian women in theatre. To find out more, visit the EIT website (

Our heartfelt thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation for making EIT and this report possible!

Some USA Research

Not Even: A Study of Gender Parity in Bay Area Theatres (2015)
NOT EVEN:  A Gender Analysis of 500 San Francisco/Bay Area Theatrical Productions 2011-2014 from The Counting Actors Project
, written by Valerie Weak in collaboration with Martha Richards, Executive Director of WomenArts, and Christine Young, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco, was released at the WomenArts’ Support Women Artists Now Day/SWAN Day Bay Area celebration on March 28, 2015.

Howlround March 2015 An article by Emma Weisberg on the language of gender parity. Includes extracts from interviews with women playwrights asked " What would gender parity in theatre look like? "

Chicago, Illinois
This Gender Equity Report shows Chicago imbalance in female representation in line with national statistics in USA.
Gender Equity Report, 2010  (PDF)

Boston Massachusetts
The Gender Parity Task Force is compiled of working groups dedicated to the goal of "50/50 by 2020"  - That is a 50% female* (*also includes non-gender normative individuals) representation in the theatre scene of Boston.
Boston, Stage Source Report, Forthcoming, 2015

Boston, MA is already a majority minority city. Within 30 years, our entire country will be majority minority. And yet, the theater sector does not reflect that reality. Though there are many reasons for this (access, lack of arts education in the schools, etc), and these reasons are much discussed in the community, the fact is that our sector must start looking like the community we live in. Read more in this downloadable PDF
The Diversity/Inclusion/Gender Parity Task Force Report [2013]

New York
This report of selected findings from the ongoing LPTW (League of Professional Theatre Women) data collection effort adds several dimensions to current studies on the status of women in theatre. Here we analyze employment in a broader-than-usual range of roles and provide an explicit focus on Off-Broadway productions for 4 complete seasons, 2010-2011 through 2013-2014.
“Women Hired Off-Broadway, 2010 – 2014,” a study by Martha Wade Steketee and Judith Binus, published by The League of Professional Theatre Women.

Cleveland 8 of 10 shows at Cleveland Public by women, 2013-14: Cleveland Public Theatre

Washington, D.C.
D.C. Theatre Demographics, collected by Gwydion Suilebhan, Patricia Connelly and David Mitchell Robinson

Some UK Research

Advance in the UK - September 2014
An extremely important and heartening course of action by Tonic Theatre to improve the position of women theatre artists in 11 major theatres in England, UK. This website explains the process undertaken by the theatres managements to move towards gender equity.



American Theatre -17 Sept. 2014
Article about the low levels of plays by women playwrights and female theatre artists.

New York, NY, USA – September 9, 2014 The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW), as part of an initiative called Women Count, are pleased to present an analysis of women employed Off-Broadway in the four most recent theatrical seasons. This new study looks at a broader range of professional roles as well as playwrights.

New York Times, NY, USA -  June 2014 Women are missing from Tony Awards -  Lynn Nottage
" Almost every year I have to manage my disappointment, not because the shows aren’t good (which occasionally they are) but rather because the shows are by and large written from one perspective: the white male"

Los Angeles, USA, Dec. 2013

Another gender parity panel of interest!  in Dec. 2013, LA FPI's Jennie Webb & Holly Derr were on a Gender Parity, Playwriting, & Production panel at Rogue Machine in LA

USA  May 2014
This is a conversation about the imbalance of gender in theater, specifically to the fact that the Tony's didn't include any women playwright nominees. Julie Crosby, Theresa Rebeck and Nell Benjamin.

Sydney Australia 2014

Theatre season 2014 Sydney Australia
Update: of 101 plays by various major theatre companies in Sydney in 2014, that 24 out of 101 plays (24%)  will have been written by women and  43.5 out of 101 plays (43%) will be directed by women.

LA FPI 2013-2014 ( Los Angeles, USA)
A team of LA FPI volunteers has completed the calculations for 2013-2014 LORT theaters "Regular Seasons" in Southern California (not including festivals). Disappointing news: only 16% of the works are female-authored and only 16% are female-directed. This is significantly down from last year; female playwrights in the previous 2012/13 season were at 22% and female directors at 25%. More at:

Washington DC Demographic Analysis 2013

Women in Theatre 2009


As one of the most advanced countries in the world, in terms of female equality, one would like to think that in this 21st Century, women would have achieved parity in most areas of public and artistic life. Not so. Recent statistics try to explain why and some new initiatives explore what might be done to achieve parity for women playwrights.

The Sands Report

Quoted from the WomenArts website:

Emily Glassberg Sands, a Princeton economics student, did her 173 page senior thesis on the status of women in theatre - Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender: An Integrated Economic Analysis of Discrimination in American Theater." Among other things, Sands found that women write fewer than 1 in 8 shows on Broadway, and that it is harder to get plays produced if they have female protagonists.
Progress with regard to women's participation in the theatre in the United States has been both inconsistent and slow. Figures indicate that advancement has stalled or even deteriorated as a sampling of numbers from the late 1960's until the present will show.


50/50 by 2020

The League of Professional Theater Women in New York has been in the forefront of drawing attention to the disparity of productions of plays by women dramatists.

League of Professional Theater Women

Limited Engagement

According to a report issued in the late 1970's,"Action for Women in Theatre," the total number of professional women playwrights and directors hired by regional and Off-Broadway theatres over a seven year period from 1969 to 1975 was 7%. Nineteen years later, in the 1994-95 season, playwright representation was at 17% and directors at 19% for Off Broadway and regional theatres. A study six years later showed an increase: According to the 2000-01 season preview in American Theatre magazine, among the 1,900 Theatre Communications Group member theatre productions, 23% of the productions were directed by women and 20% had a woman on the writing team. (It should be noted that this figure does not represent discrete authors. For example, Art by Yasmina Reza accounts for thirty productions and Margaret Edison' s Wit twenty-two.) Women participation in 2001-02 as listed in American Theatre magazine actually showed a decline, with directors at 16% and playwright representation at 17%, back at the 1994-95 percentages.

A study on women directors and playwrights commissioned by NYSCA in 1998 found that at Off Off Broadway theatres with total operating budgets of less than $500,000, the participation of women increases. Production of women playwrights was at around 30% and director participation rose to over 40%.

On Broadway, not surprisingly, as money and stakes increase, percentages of women participating declines proportionately. In 1999 women wrote only 8% of all plays and only 1% of musicals.


Prepared for the New York State Council on the Arts Theatre Program by Susan Jonas and Suzanne Bennett (January 2002), and posted by The Fund for Women Artists


Town Hall Meeting held Monday, Oct 27th, 2008

Noted playwrights Julia Jordan, Sarah Schulman and Anna Zigler organized a Town Hall Meeting held Monday, Oct 27th, 2008 at New Dramatists in New York City between 150 or so women playwrights and prominent theatre leaders, including Neil Pepe, Oskar Eustis, Sarah Benson, Carole Rothman, Tim Sanford and Jerry Patch.

Juila Jordan spoke about discrimination against women playwrights and compared it to discrimination in other arts and fields of public endeavour where solutions have been found.

Read Julia Jordan's Speech


Playwrights Guild of Canada 2006 report: 
“Adding It Up: The Status of Women in Canadian Theatre” (2006) ( Download File)


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