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Gender Wage Gap In the Arts: It's Still Here

December 8, 2008

A new report from the National Endowment for the Arts shows that although women are making gains in traditionally male-dominated artistic occupations, they still earn less than men: $0.75 to the dollar. "Women Artists: 1990–2005" (PDF), released December 2, includes several key findings:

• Women artists who work year round, full time, earn $0.75 for every dollar men artists do. Women workers overall earn $0.77 to every dollar earned by men.
• The gap widens with age. In 2003–2005, women artists aged 18 to 24 earned $0.95 to every dollar earned by men, but for women aged 45 to 54 the ratio was $0.67 to the dollar. This parallels trends in the overall labor market.
• Pay gaps vary by occupation. Lower-paying artistic occupations, such as music and dance, saw women earning an average of $0.92 to every dollar earned by men, while in non-performing-arts occupations, like design, women earned $0.72.
• Although women make up about 46 percent of the artistic workforce nationwide, they are quite underrepresented in some areas. For example, in 2003–2005, nearly eight out of ten announcers and architects were men.
• Women are making gains in some professions. In 2003–2005, women made up 43 percent of all photographers, an 11-percent gain since 1990.
• Women artists are as likely to be married as female workers in general, but are less likely to have children (about six percent less likely than women workers in general).

Dana Gioia, Chair of the NEA, summed up the report this way: "Committed and entrepreneurial, women artists are making enormous progress, but still lag behind their male colleagues economically, especially in fields such as photography, design, and architecture."

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