SUmRu Erkut | Breakout Session
This breakout session is entitled "Women Leaders in Theatre". If women make up the vast majority of theater patrons, why are men holding the majority of leadership positions in the theater industry? In 2013, the leadership of San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) and the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) partnered for a study on gender equity in the theater, particularly looking at leaders in the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). There were only fifteen women who served as artistic directors, or help the combined Artistic Director/CEO position in the seventy-four LORT theaters at the time. The situation on the executive/managerial side of the theaters was better, but not much: there were nineteen female leaders. There was only one female artistic director of color. For women of color, none were top executive/managerial leaders. These percentages have been largely unchanged for 20 years. Our research suggests that many issues associated with the scarcity of women in top leadership are also true of people of color. There needs to be action on both fronts, paying particular attention to the virtual absence of women of color in theater leadership. In this breakout session, Carey Perloff, Artistic Director of A.C.T. and Sumru Erkut of WCW aim to identify the ways in which artistic and executive directors are currently being selected, and point to recommendations of how to make the selection process more gender balanced.
Sumru Erkut Ph.D. is a Senior Scholar and Research Scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW). Her research has encompassed variations in the course of child and adult development due to gender, race/ethnicity, social class, immigration, urbanization, and sexuality. Her research on adults has focused on employment and leadership. She was a part of a team which found that three or more women on a corporate board of directors constituted a critical mass that improves corporate boards functioning. Her most recent work is an examination of the scarcity of women leaders in theaters and what can be done to remedy the situation, a research study carried out in collaboration with the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.