Men still on top in the arts

Women continue to be under-represented in British cultural life, new findings from UK Feminista (1) reveal. The research, brought together for Women’s Words (2) – a unique event to celebrate women in the arts organised by UK Feminista and hosted by Faber and Faber on 14th July (3), shows women remain a minority in many of the country’s leading cultural events, prizes and exhibitions.

The research found:

• 71% of the performances at Glastonbury 2010 were by all-male acts; performances by men outnumbered performances by women 6:1 (4)
• Of the albums shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize over the past decade, albums by men outnumber albums by women more than 2:1 (5)
• Just 1.6% of the conductors and 4.1% of the composers who feature in the 2010 BBC Proms are female (6)


• 83% of the artists in the Tate Modern are men (7)
• 70% of the artists in the Saatchi Gallery are men (8)
• 70% of the artists that have been nominated for the Turner Prize have been men and only 3 women have ever won (just 12% of all winners) (9)

Writing and literature:

• 78% of the authors shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non Fiction in the past decade have been men, and men make up 70% of winners  (10)
• 38% of the authors shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in the past decade have been women (11)
• 70% of the winners and 68% of those shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year in the past decade have been men (12)
• Just 7% of the winners of the BAFTA award for best original or adapted screenplay have been women (between 1990 and 2005) (13)

Film & TV:
• For every female character in television drama there are two male characters (14)
• Just 7% of film directors are women (15)

The findings add to growing pressure on the arts and entertainment industries to tackle gender inequality. Over recent months a host of stars from the entertainment world have spoken out against sexism, including Victoria Wood, Julie Walters, Ian McKellen, and Juliet Stevenson (16).

Kat Banyard, Director of UK Feminista and author of The Equality Illusion, said:
“Women are still the supporting act in British cultural life. Despite more women pursuing careers in the arts than ever before, they remain a stark minority amongst some of the UK’s most prestigious cultural events, exhibitions and prizes. “It isn’t just individual artists who pay the price for this cultural glass ceiling, it is all of us – everyone who enjoys the best and most diverse art that Britain has to offer. Culture not only reflects society – but helps shape it, so the fact that women’s creative work is hidden and silenced on such a scale means we have a major problem.”

Bidisha, novelist and critic who is taking part in Women’s Words, said:
“I’m angry. The marginalisation of women across all the arts and media is ubiquitous and obvious. The perpetrators blame women victims for shyness, scarcity, smallness, irrelevance, unwillingness …and a host of other malicious lies. I blame the perpetrators, male and female, for their misogyny and man-worshipping.”

For interviews or to request further information please contact Kat Banyard: 07775 855037,

Notes to editors:
(1) UK Feminista is a new national campaigning organisation supporting and promoting action for equality between women and men.

(2) Women’s Words: Celebrating women in the arts is on Wednesday 14th July, 6.30-8.30pm, at Faber and Faber in central London. Leading figures in the arts will come together to respond to the findings and celebrate the huge wealth of female talent that exists in the UK.
The speakers and performers taking part in Women’s Words are:

• Kate Mosse: international bestselling author of Labyrinth, Sepulchre and The Winter Ghosts, and co-founder and Honorary Director of the Orange Prize for Fiction.
• Bidisha: Novelist, broadcaster and regular contributor to Newsnight Review, Front Row and Saturday Review.
• Viv Groskop: Guardian journalist and BBC Radio 4 regular
• Louise Doughty: Novelist, playwright and critic whose latest book, Whatever You Love, is published by Faber and Faber.
• Hannah Pool: journalist and author of My Fathers’ Daughter.
• Penelope Skinner: Playwright whose works include Fucked and Scarlet’s Circus. Eigengrau, her most recent play, premiered at the Bush Theatre and is published by Faber and Faber.
• The Book Club Boutique Band:

Individuals who have supported Women’s Words by donating items towards the raffle and auction being held at the event include Tracy Chevalier, Samira Ahmed, Sarah Waters, Zoe Wannamaker, Kira Cochrane, and Jacky Fleming.

(3) Faber and Faber is one of the last of the great independent publishing houses in London. Its backlist features books by eleven Nobel Laureates and six Booker Prize-winners.

(4) UK Feminista categorised 786 billed performances at Glastonbury 2010 as either ‘single male’, ‘all male group’, ‘single female’, ‘all female group’, or ‘mixed sex group’. This showed: 556 performances were all-male (either ‘single male’ or ‘all male group’) – constituting 71% of all performances; 86 performances were all-female (either ‘single female’ or ‘all female group’), constituting 11% of all performances; 144 acts featured both women and men; 82 performances were not included in the survey because insufficient information was available to categorise the acts.

(5) UK Feminista classified the 119 albums shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize in the past decade as either ‘single male’, ‘all male group’, ‘single female’, ‘all female group’, or ‘mixed sex group’. This showed: 77 albums were all-male (either ‘single male’ or ‘all male group’) – constituting 65% of the albums; 29 albums were all-female (either ‘single female’ or ‘all female group’) – constituting 24% of the albums; and 13 albums were by a mixed sex group – constituting 11% of the albums. Seven out of the ten albums that won the Mercury Music Prize were all-male.

(6) Findings by Women in Music – a national membership organisation that celebrates women’s music making across all genres of music.

(7) UK Feminista analysed what proportion of the artists whose work is displayed in the Tate Modern using the Tate’s ‘Artists A-Z’ list updated on 18 June 2010. Apart from the inclusion of Level 2 Gallery: Haris Epaminonda, VOL. VI , which  is a temporary exhibition, the artist A-Z list relates to display areas on Level 3 and 5 and is referred to as the Permanent Collection. The collection includes the works of 208 male artists, 42 female artists, and four unknown/unidentifiable artists.

(8) The Saatchi Gallery is currently exhibiting Newspeak: British Art Now. Of the 76 artists featured in the exhibition, 23 are female – constituting 30% of the artists.

(9) Of the 119 artists have been nominated for the Turner Prize since its inception in 1984, 36 have been women – constituting 30% of the artists. Of the 25 winners, 3 (25%) have been female artists.

(10) From 2000 to 2010 (inclusive) 66 authors were nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non Fiction: 51 men (constituting 77% of authors) and 15 women (constituting 23% of authors).  Of the 11 winners, 4 (36%) were women.

(11) From 2000 to 2009 37 men and 23 women have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Six out of the ten winners have been men.

(12) From 2000 to 2009 41 authors were nominated for the Costa Novel of the Year (prior to 2006 the awards were called the Whitbread Awards), consisting of 13 women (32%) and 28 men (68%). Seven out of the ten winners were men (70%).

(13) Findings from: Scoping Study into the Lack of Women Screenwriters in the UK: A report presented to the UK Film Council, Institute for Employment Studies, 2006

(14) See Equity:

(15) In 2009, women comprised 7% of all directors working on the top 250 grossing films in the US. Findings from Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film:

(16) Performers who have spoken out against sexism in the entertainment industry:
• Ian McKellen has called for more stage roles to be created for older actresses:
• Victoria Wood has criticised TV panel shows for being male dominated:
• Julie Walters, Imelda Staunton, Harriet Walter and Timberlake Wertenbaker have all signed a petition calling for equal representation of women in TV and film drama:
• Juliet Stevenson has decried the lack of women in senior positions in film, television and theatres, stating: “”All the executives are male. They are chasing young skirt. There’s a lot of truth in that.”: