Who Designs and Directs in LORT Theatres by Gender

Phase Four: Part 1

I first published this study in 2015, hoping to provide a baseline on gender of designers in League of Resident Theatre (LORT) Theatres. This article and the accompanying charts are the result of the last five years of collecting, confirming whenever possible, and analyzing the data. The chart in the original study looked at the 2009-2010 through 2013-2014 seasons, whereas these represent 2012-2013 through 2016-2017. Overall, there is very little change between each five-season set of the statistics (there are two seasons shared between them)—rarely more than a percentage or two. The biggest change is that in the first study, female lighting designers held 13.7 percent of the positions, and in this latest study, they held 17.1 percent. This is the largest growth. Overall, women held 28.2 percent of all design positions in my first study, and hold 29 percent in this latest one. 

I find these results unsurprising, but disappointing for the American theatre, as we have been talking about gender equity for a long time. Meaningful change takes time and deliberate, thoughtful choices that reflect the values professed by many mission statements. We have a lot of work left to do, so let's get down to doing it. 

Overall, women held 28.2 percent of all design positions in my first study, and hold 29 percent in this latest one. 

Methodology

I collected data primarily from the theatres’ own websites, TCG Member Profiles, BroadwayWorld.com, Playbill.com, and various newspaper and internet review sites. Then I wrote the theatres directly with the data I collected, and asked for confirmation and/or correction. I excluded the following: tours, events, galas, Theatre for Young Audiences shows, and any production that was presented rather than produced.

In cases where theatres run their seasons yearly, the 2013 season was combined with the 2012-13 season for statistical purposes, and so forth. I collected data and then sent what I found to the theatres themselves for confirmation. Only lead designers, no assistants or associates, were counted. In cases where multiple designers worked as co-designers, they each got partial credit. For example, Joe and Jane were the co-scenic designers of a production, so they each received 0.5 in the designer counting. People were counted as individual designers in each discipline, even if they designed in two or more disciplines. And of course, as always, correlation is not causation.

Many designers and directors work both inside LORT member theatres and elsewhere. This study does not suggest that the numbers below reflect the totality of an individual’s work for the five seasons. Although there are some resident designer jobs, the vast majority of design positions do not go to resident designers, and I have not made a distinction between resident and freelance designers in this study.

In determining gender identity, I read production bios and used whatever personal pronoun I found. When a designer used gender-neutral pronouns, that is noted on the graphs and charts under “they designers.” There’s no elegant and short way yet to say “designers-whose-pronouns-are-‘he’ designers” so for the purposes of this article, I’m going to say “he designers,” “she designers,” and “they designers,” and same for artistic directors and directors.

The fourth phase of this study adds a few additional ways of looking at the data to more fully explore the gender statistics of designers, directors, and artistic directors working at LORT member theatres. To begin, I added the 2016-17 and 2017 production seasons to the overall data. Instead of using male and female to refer to gender, I’m using the pronouns I found. I changed the look of the prolificity graphs for clarity. Now with five seasons to analyze, I looked at yearly percentages of positions by region and category. Please note that some of the yearly percentages are based on very small numbers of positions, particularly in the projection/video design discipline. I examined all he designer and all she designer teams, and how they correlate with gender identity of the director and artistic director. I also looked at seasons and theatres with no designers or directors of either she or he, based on which had the lower percentage overall. I’m narrating all the charts, after being called out on my own ableism, and I apologize for that in prior phases of this study.

Of the then seventy-three LORT member theatres, based on prior years’ and this year’s confirmation, 93.9 percent of the 2622 productions were confirmed. All the graphs are based on both confirmed and unconfirmed information. In the case of one theatre, the “head” of the theatre is an executive director rather than an artistic director, so that’s the information I used for the statistics. I rounded to one decimal point, which resulted in some graphs not equaling 100.0 percent exactly.

If you work at one of these theatres and would like your company’s specific raw data, please write me at lortdesigners@gmail.com from your institutional email, and I’ll happily send it to you. Please allow a week for a response.

Thank you to all who confirmed data for this study over the last four years. This may end up being the last year of the study for me. It had been my pleasure and I wish you all happy seasons. And thank you to all the supporters of the study. A special thank you to all my editors at HowlRound over the years for their kind and smart guidance.

Read the second installment of this study, with additional charts, next. Parts three and four will be published next week.

Who Designs in LORT Theatres by Gender: Positions & People

graph of twelve pie charts with a title that says "Who Designs in LORT Theatres by Gender: Positions & People"

Click here to enlarge image.

Of the 2603 scenic design positions available during the past five seasons, 79.1 percent were filled by he designers and 20.9 percent were filled by she designers. Of the 2571 costume design positions available, 69.5 percent were filled by she designers, 30.5 percent were filled by he designers, and less than 0.1 percent were filled by they designers. Of the 2613 lighting design positions available, 82.9 percent were filled by he designers, and 17.1 percent were filled by she designers. Of the 2509 sound design positions available, 89.0 percent were filled by he designers, 11.0 percent were filled by she designers, and 0.1 percent were filled by they designers. Of the 449 projection/video design positions available, 88.5 percent were filled by he designers and 11.5 percent were filled by she designers. Of the 10,745 design positions, 71.0 percent were filled by he designers, 29.0 percent were filled by she designers, and less than 0.1 percent were filled by they designers.

Of the 462 scenic designers working in the past five seasons, 73.2 percent were he designers, and 26.8 percent were she designers. Of the 564 costume designers, 70.6 percent were she designers, 29.3 percent were he designers, and 0.2 percent were they designers. Of the 429 lighting designers, 78.1 percent were he designers, and 21.9 percent were she designers. Of the 398 sound designers, 86.4 percent were he designers, 13.3 percent were she designers, and 0.3 percent were they designers. Of the 153 projection/video designers, 82.4 percent were he designers, and 17.6 percent were she designers. Of the 2006 designers, 65.2 percent were he designers, 34.7 percent were she designers, and 0.1 percent were they designers.

Who Designs in LORT Theatres by Gender: Averages

six charts, all broken down by type of design, with a title that reads "Who Designs in LORT Theatres by Gender: Averages"

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Over the five seasons, scenic designers averaged 5.6 shows each overall, with he designers averaging 6.1 shows, and she designers averaging 4.4 shows. Costume designers averaged 4.6 shows, with he designers averaging 4.7 shows, she designers averaging 4.5 shows, and they designers averaging 1.0 show. Lighting designers averaged 6.1 shows, with he designers averaging 6.5 shows, and she designers averaging 4.8 shows. Sound designers averaged 6.5 shows, with he designers averaging 6.3 shows, she designers averaging 5.2 shows, and they designers averaging 3.0 shows. Projection/video designers averaged 2.9 shows, with he designers averaging 3.1 shows, and she designers designing averaging 2.3 shows. All designers averaged 5.4 shows, with he designers averaging 5.8 shows, she designers averaging 4.5 shows, and they designers averaging 2.0 shows.

Who Designs in LORT Theatres by Gender: Yearly Percentages of Positions

six charts with the title "Who Designs in LORT Theatres by Gender: Yearly Percentages of Positions"

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From 2012-13 to 2016-17, he designers went from 79.4 percent to 80.0 percent to 83.2 percent to 78.3 percent to 74.5 percent of all scenic design positions filled each season. She designers went from 20.6 percent to 20.0 percent to 16.8 percent to 21.7 percent to 25.5 percent of all scenic design positions filled each season. Over the five seasons studied, he designers filling scenic design positions decreased 4.9 percent, while she designers filling scenic design positions increased 4.9 percent.

From 2012-13 to 2016-17, she designers went from 67.2 percent to 70.5 percent to 65.9 percent to 71.2 percent to 72.8 percent of all costume design positions filled each season. He designers went from 32.8 percent to 29.5 percent to 34.1 percent to 28.8 percent to 27.0 percent. They designers were at 0.2 percent for the 2016-17 season. Over the five seasons studied, she designers filling costume design positions increased 5.6 percent, and he designers filling costume design positions decreased 5.8 percent.

From 2012-13 to 2016-17, he designers went from 87.6 percent to 84.4 percent to 82.5 percent to 80.8 percent to 78.9 percent of all lighting design position filled each season. She designers went from 12.4 percent to 15.6 percent to 17.5 percent to 19.2 percent to 21.1 percent. Over the five seasons studied, he designers filling lighting design positions decreased 8.7 percent, and she designers filling lighting design positions increased 8.7 percent.

From 2012-13 to 2016-17, he designers went from 89.9 percent to 89.6 percent to 89.2 percent to 88.6 percent to 87.1 percent of all sound design positions filled each season. She designers went from 10.1 percent to 10.4 percent to 10.8 percent to 11.0 percent to 12.7 percent. From the 2015-16 to 2016-17 seasons, they designers went from 0.4 percent to 0.2 percent. Over the five seasons studied, he designers filling sound design positions decreased 2.8 percent, and she designers filling sound design positions increased 2.6 percent.

From 2012-13 to 2016-17, he designers went from 91.8 percent to 93.3 percent to 87.6 percent to 83.0 percent to 79.8 percent of all projection/video design positions filled each season. She designers went from 8.2 percent to 6.7 percent to 12.4 percent to 17.0 percent to 20.2 percent. Over the five seasons studied, he designers filling projection/video design positions decreased 12.0 percent, and she designers filling projection/video design positions increased 12.0 percent.

From 2012-13 to 2016-17, he designers went from 73.1 percent to 71.6 percent to 72.9 percent to 69.8 percent to 67.5 percent of all design positions filled. She designers went from 26.9 percent to 28.4 percent to 27.1 percent to 30.1 percent to 32.4 percent. From 2015-16 to 2016-17, they designers remained steady at 0.1 percent. Over the five seasons studied, he designers filling positions decreased 5.6 percent, and she designers filling positions increased 5.5 percent.

Who Designs in LORT Theatres by Gender: Prolificity

five charts with the title "Who Designs in LORT Theatres by Gender: Prolificity"

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The following statistics are based on number of positions per designer over all five seasons examined.

In scenic design, the most prolific 1 percent of designers designed 7.3 percent of all shows with a scenic designer, and is comprised of five designers, all he designers. These five designers did 190 shows over the five seasons. The most prolific 5 percent designed 28.7 percent of shows with a scenic designer, and is comprised of twenty-four designers, with twenty-three (95.8 percent of the most prolific 5 percent) he designers and one (4.2 percent of the most prolific 5 percent) she designer. The most prolific 10 percent designed 44.3 percent of all shows with a scenic designer, and is comprised of forty-seven designers, with forty-one (87.2 percent of the most prolific 10 percent) he designers and six (12.8 percent of the most prolific 10 percent) she designers. The most prolific 25 percent designed 71.0 percent of all shows with a scenic designer, comprised of 116 designers, with eighty-seven (75.0 percent of the most prolific 25 percent) he designers, being 25.7 percent of all he designers scenic designers, and twenty-nine (25.0 percent of the most prolific 25 percent) she designers, being 23.4 percent of all she scenic designers.

In costume design, the most prolific 1 percent of designers designed 7.0 percent of all shows with a costume designer, and is comprised of 6 designers, with four she designers and two he designers. These six designers designed 180.5 shows over the five seasons. The most prolific 5 percent designed 25.1 percent of shows with a costume designer, and is comprised of twenty-nine designers, with seventeen (58.6 percent of the most prolific 5 percent) she designers, and twelve (41.4 percent of the most prolific 5 percent) he designers. The most prolific 10 percent designed 39.9 percent of shows with a costume designer, and is comprised of fifty-seven designers, with thirty-seven (64.9 percent of the most prolific 10 percent) she designers and twenty (35.1 percent of the most prolific 10 percent) he designers. The most prolific 25 percent designed 67.0 percent of all shows with a costume designer, and is comprised of 141 designers, with 103 (73.0 percent of the most prolific 25 percent) she designers, being 25.9 percent of all she designers costume designers, and thirty-eight (23.0 percent of the most prolific 25 percent) he designers, being 23.0 percent of all he designers costume designers.

In lighting design, the most prolific 1 percent of designers designed 7.9 percent of all shows with a lighting designer, and is comprised of 5 designers, with 4 he designers and 1 she designers. These 5 designers designed 207.5 shows over the 5 seasons. The most prolific 5 percent designed 25.3 percent of shows with a lighting designer, and is comprised of 22 designers, with 20 (90.9 percent of the most prolific 5 percent) he designers and 2 (9.1 percent of the most prolific 5 percent) she designers. The most prolific 10 percent of designers designed 41.4 percent of all shows with a lighting designer, and is comprised of 38 (88.4 percent of the most prolific 10 percent) he designers, and 5 (11.6 percent of the most prolific 10 percent) she designers. The most prolific 25 percent designed 69.6 percent of shows with a lighting designer, and is comprised of 108 designers, with 90 (83.3 percent of the the most prolific 25 percent) he designers, being 26.9 percent of all he designers lighting designers, and 18 (16.7 percent of the most prolific 25 percent) she designers, being 19.1 percent of all lighting she designers. The least prolific 75 percent of designers designed 30.4 percent of all shows with a lighting designer, and is comprised of 321 designers, with 245 (76.3 percent of the least prolific 75 percent) he designers, and 76 (23.7 percent of the least prolific 75 percent) she designers.

In sound design, the most prolific 1 percent of designers designed 7.6 percent of all shows with a sound designer, and is comprised of 4 designers, all he designers. These 4 designers designed 191 shows over the 5 seasons. The most prolific 5 percent designed 25.6 percent of shows with a sound designer, and is comprised of 20 designers, with 16 (80 percent of the most prolific 5 percent) he designers, and 4 (20 percent of the most prolific 5 percent) she designers. The most prolific 10 percent designed 42.1 percent of shows with a sound designers, and is comprised of 40 designers, with 35 (87.5 percent of the most prolific 10 percent) he designers, and 5 (12.5 percent of the most prolific 10 percent) she designers. The most prolific 25 percent designed 71.3 percent of shows with a sound designer, and is comprised of 100 designers, with 91 (91.0 percent of the most prolific 25 percent) he designers, being 22.9 percent of all he designers sound designers, and 9 (9.0 percent of the most prolific 25 percent) she designers, being 17.0 percent of all she designers sound designers. The least prolific 75 percent designed 28.7 percent of all shows with a sound designers, and is comprised of 298 designers, with 253 (84.9 percent of the least prolific 75 percent) he designers, 44 (14.8 percent of the least prolific 75 percent) she designers, and 1 (0.3 percent of the least prolific 75 percent) they designers.

In video/projection design, the most prolific 1 percent of designers designed 8.2 percent of all shows with a video designer, and is comprised of 2 designers, all he designers. Over the five seasons, these 2 designers designed 37 shows. The most prolific 5 percent designed 27.5 percent of shows with a video/projection designer, and is comprised of 8 designers, with 7 (87.5 percent of the most prolific 5 percent) he designers, and 1 (12.5 percent of the most prolific 5 percent) she designers. The most prolific 10 percent designed 45.3 percent of all shows with a video/projection designer, and is comprised of 16 designers, with 14 (87.5 percent of the most prolific 10 percent) he designers, and 2 (12.5 percent of the most prolific 10 percent) she designers. The most prolific 25 percent designed 68.9 percent of all the shows with a video designer, and is comprised of 39 designers, with 33 (84.6 percent of the most prolific 25 percent) he designers, being 26.2 percent of all he designers projection/video designers, and 6 (18.4 percent of the most prolific 25 percent) she designers, being 22.2 percent of all she designers projection/video designers. The least prolific 75 percent designed 31.1 percent of the productions with a video designer, and is comprised of 114 designers, with 93 (81.6 percent of the least prolific 75 percent) he designers, and 21 (18.4 percent of the least prolific 75 percent) she designers.

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