The arts are often seen as a feminine pursuit, particularly when it comes to certain things like dance or musicals. However, when you take a look at the numbers, you can see that many areas of the arts aren’t as dominated by women as you might think. Take theatre, for example, where less than a third of on-stage characters in Broadway shows are women. Behind the scenes, the picture looks even worse. Only a small percentage of women are writers or directors, and only three women have ever been nominated for Best Play at the Tonys, with two winners – compared to 69 male winners.
However, the situation isn’t all bad. Audra McDonald has won more Tony Awards than any other performer, with six under her belt. She is also the only actor to have won an award in every category. Ten women have won the award for Best Director, although the first female winners didn’t occur until 1998. In 2019, Rachel Chavkin won the award with Hadestown. Outside of Broadway, women are better represented in theatre across the US, but still, only 28.8% of theatre writers in North America are women.
Things are getting better not just in theatre but in other areas of the arts too. There is still a long way to go to achieve gender parity, from the numbers of female directors to how many lines women receive in movies. However, there are many initiatives to encourage more women in the arts, and things are moving in the right direction.