- “Though one might expect that the flexible nature of many artistic careers–as well as research indicating that artists tend to possess more liberal ideologies than other professionals–would result in greater gender pay equity, our research shows that the difference between the incomes of female and male artists are about the same as you’d find in other fields,” says Danielle Lindemann, assistant professor of sociology at Lehigh University.
Lindemann is a lead author (with co-lead Carly A. Rush, Vanderbilt University and Steven J. Tepper of Arizona State University) of the first study to examine labor market factors as a driver of the wage gap between men and women in the arts. The results of their analysis have been published in an article called “An Asymmetrical Portrait: Exploring Gendered Income Inequality in the Arts” in Social Currents.
The researchers analyzed data drawn from the 2011 Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a nationwide survey of individuals who have received degrees in the arts. SNAAP uses a broad definition of “the arts,” which includes performing arts, design, art history, writing, film, graphic arts, music, fine arts, and others. In total, 33,801 arts alumni from 66 educational institutions (eight arts high schools and 58 postsecondary institutions) in the United States responded to the survey.
Lindemann and her colleagues analyzed the data with three goals in mind: identifying the magnitude of the gender earnings gap in the arts compared to other fields; examining the impact of specific factors known to influence pay differences by gender in other occupations, such as hours worked, network connections, family-level dynamics and whether a job is in the private, governmental or nonprofit sectors; and, finally, discovering if any of the factors impact men and women differently.
The main finding: gender-based income inequalities persist within the arts just as they do in other fields. The gender wage gap is comparable for artists and nonartists.
“We found significant income differences between male and female arts graduates who work both inside and outside of the arts,” said Lindemann. After controlling for race, age, experience and education the average salary for female artists was $43,177.23; for male artists it was $63,061.50–a difference of $19,884.30.