2023 Women in Theatre Survey Report

Researched and written by Jennifer Tuckett, the Women in Theatre Survey was conducted in 2021 and updated in 2023, to investigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on women in theatre. This is the first survey specifically gathering information on women in theatre in the UK in terms of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This is also one of the largest recent surveys specifically focused on women in theatre in the UK.

The survey is supported by The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Sphinx Theatre Company, University Women in the Arts, the December Group, Equity, ERA 50:50, and Stage Directors UK. It is a follow up survey to the more general Women in Theatre Forum Report in 2021, which was supported by the same partners.

Key recommendations from the survey are:

  • For the focus the pandemic has thrown on women taking on the majority of caring and domestic tasks responsibilities to be taken as an opportunity to address the issue of much of childcare and domestic tasks still falling on women via the setting up of a childcare and caring responsibilities support fund by Arts Council England, which would enable those with caring responsibilities to apply for support to facilitate work in the arts, and via specific action by the UK government more generally to provide support for women on this issue.
  • For specific support to be provided to support older women in theatre (40+) by Arts Council England, which has been highlighted as an area urgently in need of redress. For specific support to be provided by the UK government on this issue more generally as well, for example in Australia the state of Victoria has provided $50 million support for women over the age of 45 in securing jobs post-pandemic in recognition of this group’s increased challenges. For theatre organisations to consider what support they can provide in terms of this area as well.
  • For the UK government and Arts Council England to take action to urgently increase awareness of gender bias and provide guidance on this issue to prevent an increase in gender inequality post pandemic.
  • For specific support to help women recover from the pandemic to be provided by the government, Arts Council England and theatre organisations, for example in the form of quotas to bring about long-term change and prevent increased gender inequality and/or in the form of specific schemes, funding, training and job opportunities. This has been provided by other countries including Australia who have set aside in the state of Victoria alone $150 million to support women in coming back from the pandemic which includes funds for schemes, training, childcare support and new job opportunities.
  • For staff working in theatre organisations and policymakers to urgently be trained on unconscious bias and using a gender lens and ensuring gender-balanced teams. For theatre organisations to provide guidance and training for staff on this issue.
  • For mentoring and training to be provided to help women in theatre recover post-pandemic, for example respondents repeatedly highlighted issues of loss of confidence via being out of the industry during the pandemic due to caring responsibilities or loss of jobs.

Australia’s Victorian Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams, whose state has provided $150 million to support women recover from the pandemic, has stated “The pandemic has confirmed what we knew all along – women face an uphill battle every day in the workforce. It’s time it changed.”

We hope theatre organisations, Arts Council England and the UK government will use the findings from this survey to urgently take action in the UK.

The full report is available to read here

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