University of Minnesota Graduate Student Analyzes Gender Gap in Public Sculptures

Sydney Shea, a landscape architecture graduate student at the University of Minnesota, has investigated the gender gap found in public sculptures in her ongoing research project, The (Un)Named Woman.

For her project, Shea analyzed the representation of women in public sculptures and memorials in New York City and San Francisco and found a large disparity. For example, she found that there are 25 statues honoring historical figures in Central Park in New York City. Not one is in honor of a woman.

Shea then decided to examine the sculptures at the Minnesota State Capitol by sorting them into four categories: stand-alone named woman, stand-alone named man, unnamed man, and unnamed woman. She found only two plaques in honor of named women, in comparison with 11 statues of men, 12 busts of men, and two plaques honoring men. Around the Capitol, Shea found eight statues of women, but they were all unnamed and represented ideas like youth, agriculture, and wisdom. Additionally, she found that these unnamed sculptures lacked diversity.

“A lot of public sculptures were made in the early 20th century [and have] never been revisited and updated to better reflect our nation’s makeup or the lives of specific individuals,” said Shea.

Shea will continue her research throughout this semester with her faculty advisor Professor Rebecca Krinke. She plans to put together a public installation displaying her results outside of the Minnesota State Capitol.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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