Saturday, July 14, 2018

American arts administration, a small study indicates the majority of arts administrators are white and women but the sample size is small and skews very heavily southwest and west with 575 responses so ... tiny sample issue

According to an American for the Arts study cited in a GIA study on arts workplace diversity authored by Antonio Cuyler:

"Americans for the Arts (2013) studied the salaries of arts managers who work in local arts agencies (N = 753). Approximately, 86 percent of the full-time respondents self-identified as white, and 72 percent as female."

As increasing numbers of new hires in the field have graduated from an arts administration program, that imbalance is likely to continue for the foreseeable future as women far outnumber men enrolled in university arts administration programs.  According to a report on the feminization of the field authored by Erica Weyer Ittner:

"In 2010, 70 percent of the individuals attending arts administration programs in colleges and universities were women (Gaskell).  As women become the primary jobholder in a particular field it is deemed feminized, or gendered."

The feminization of a field has often been accompanied by it being patronizingly regarded as less important than a male dominated area.  Indeed, public funding for the arts may be negatively impacted because elected decision makers regard it, and its nonprofit status, as simply inferior to the private sector and not the equal in terms of value as male dominated enterprises.  Women, and the arts field, have had to confront that kind of prejudice for a long time.

But any endeavor dominated by specific demographic groups faces the challenge that's its institutional memory and its organizational perspective is thereby compromise and limited, and, as a result, it decision making apparatus lacks perspective and depth.

Diversity is a lofty goal for two principal reasons:  1) the fairness and equity social justice issue - i.e., no group should be excluded from sitting at the decision making tables anywhere.  Society benefits from all demographic groups being represented and having input access, and 2) decision makers, organizations, communities and society itself all benefit from having differing perspectives, differing life experiences represented at the decision making point - including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and gender

And so, we must ask whether we have lost or are losing, to some extent, the male perspective in the nonprofit arts -- as fewer males are in, and are coming into, the field?  That may be ultimately unhealthy, in the same ways that any inadequate representation - of whatever demographic category - is.  Having primarily only one gender perspective hamstrings all our decisions and limits us - in way we might not even fully understand or appreciate.  It's simply unhealthy for a female skewed ecosystem to dominate the field, much as it is for a white male dominated cohort to dominate it.  If we are to do a credible job at truly engaging our communities and providing services to the whole of our society, we need to get to an inclusive balance.

575 is not exactly the biggest sample size so we can't be altogether sure this isn't skewed by the sampling bias being so predominantly southwest/west United States.  If more women are still getting advanced degrees than men and a master's degree is the most common level of educational attainment for arts administration workers then it's not a big surprise if women may tend to prevail in arts administration.  Whether these are working at the highest echelons may be a different question across the United States because, again, the sample size seemed small.

Despite the fact that there were 575 responses on most categories there were 555 responses on questions about sexual orientation.  See, that's interesting because one of the first things I thought about reading about this stuff was that sexual orientation is precisely the kind of demographic parameter you shouldn't even be asking about in terms of hiring to begin with because that could be considered discriminatory unless an organization were a non-profit tied specifically to dealing with an issue of sexual health or advocacy with respect to a demographic community.  So I'm not surprised that twenty some respondents opted out on the question of orientation. 

Seventy-seven percent of survey participants are female, and 23 percent are male. Only two participants identified as transgender. The arts management workforce may need to consider ways to recruit more men into the profession. Yet, research has shown that gender negatively affects the careers of women in arts management. Herron et al. (1998) conducted a national study of arts managers in medium-sized dance companies, museums, opera companies, symphonies, and theaters to determine the effect gender has on the career mobility of arts managers. They found that men predominantly held upper-management positions and earned significantly higher salaries than women, and thus they concluded that a glass ceiling exists in arts management for women.

One of my relatives was telling me that  pay gaps between men and women don't always account for things like over-time.  If a study shows that women are seven percent likely to put in more than fifty hours in a week compared to twenty percent of men then at the level of management that might be a variable to consider.  That corporations can take very punitive approaches to parenthood should also be considered. 

I'm surprised at the pittance of response from the Pacific Northwest since it would seem there's actually not a shortage of arts organizations around here. 

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