March is women’s history month. The National Museum of Women in the Arts launched the #5womenartists social media campaign in 2016. The campaign asks: “Can you name 5 artists? Can you name 5 women artists? Can you name 5 women artists of color?”
To see what users are currently sharing, plug the #5womenartists hashtag into the search bar on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Now that we’re about halfway through the month, there’s quite a bit to see.
Temporally speaking, we’re about halfway to the end of Women’s History Month. In terms of real-world stuff, not so much.
I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last Tuesday night, for the Met’s 12th annual “Evening Celebrating Women.” One of the women celebrated that evening was Mariët Westermann, who reminded the (mostly female) audience that when she was a student, almost all of the professors and curators she encountered were men, while most of her fellow graduate students were women. Things are changing–though the gender gap continues to exist at the top levels of museum (and art world) leadership, as reported by this 2017 Association of Art Museum Directors study. 48% of art museum directorships are held by women, and the salary disadvantage for women directors continues to hold true (female museum directors make 73 cents for every dollar made by a male director, which is actually below average for women artists, who make 81 cents for every dollar made by a male artist).
I’ve thought a lot about these issues–especially in the wake of #metoo and #notsurprised, and the general drift of things–and thought particularly long and hard about how to go beyond the usual encomiums.
Coincidentally, this event fell on the heels of Armory Week. Art Basel / UBS also released Clare McAndrew’s “The Art Market 2018.” If you are a keen watcher of art markets, McAndrew’s report won’t surprise you. It is a tale of 2 markets — the “haves” and everyone else. The art fair circuit lays that all out, right there–encomiums won’t get us to where we need to be. Structures and institutions need to change.
I didn’t pick the museum directors example at random. Women are still underrepresented at the top end of the economy. In terms of economic power–whether measured by earned income, wealth and investments, or capital–women are still far behind men.
Women: Embrace power.