Gender Differences in Employment and Compensation for Women in the Arts

New research conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts examined gender differences in the demographic composition and earnings of the nation’s workforce of artists in the years 2015 to 2019.

Overall, there was an average of 2.4 million employed artists in the workforce during the study period. Artists were defined as workers whose primary job (in terms of number of hours worked on a given week) fell into one of 11 distinct occupations. The categories included designers, writers and authors, fine artists, art directors, animators musicians, architects, announcers, actors, entertainers, and dancers/choreographers. Of the 2.4 million artists, 933,000 were designers in fields such as fashion, floral, industrial, graphic, interior, and other types of design. The next largest share of artists — the occupation of writers and authors — tallied just under 250,000.

Women were 47.6 percent of all artists, roughly equivalent to the percentage of women in the entire labor force. But as in the economy as a whole, there are many occupations where women hold the vast majority of positions and others where the representation of women is low. Women made up more than 77 percent of all dancers and choreographers and nearly 60 percent of all writers and authors. The only other category where women made up a majority of the workforce was designers.  At the other end of the spectrum, women were 27.6 percent of the architects, 28.8 percent of the announcers, and a third of all musicians.

While more than 37 percent of all U.S. workers hold bachelor’s degrees or higher levels of training, the percentage of artists with college degrees is over 64 percent. The category with the largest percentage of men – architects – was the occupation with the highest level of education with more than 90 percent holding a college degree. The category with the greatest percentage of women – dancers and choreographers – was the occupation with the lowest level of education. Only 31 percent of dancers and choreographers held a college degree.

In 2015‐2019, women artists (working full‐year, full‐time) earned $0.80 for every dollar earned by men artists; the same ratio that has been reported for all women workers in the labor force. The highest paid occupation for artists was architects, again the category with the highest percentage of men. Dancers and choreographers was the lowest paid artist occupation and the one with the greatest percentage of women.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study

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