Why are the majority of plays produced written by men? Why do even the most talented female playwrights seem to have a hard time making their way to Broadway? Artistic directors say they tend to receive more scripts from male playwrights. Yet female playwrights say they submit work frequently and it’s often neglected.
So who’s right? Maybe everybody, according to a study released today, "Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender," by Princeton graduate Emily Glassberg Sands. (Sands will present her findings tonight in a town-hall gathering for members of the industry at 59E59 Theaters.) Sands’s senior thesis shows that female playwrights are, in fact, discriminated against, which may be one reason why fewer women are writing plays.
Sands, who was just scooped up by Harvard for a Ph.D, is no ordinary undergrad scholar. Her mentors include Freakonomics author Steven Levitt; Cecilia Rouse, an Obama appointee to the Council of Economic Advisers; and Alan Krueger, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s second-in-command for economic policy. "[Sands] provides convincing evidence that female playwrights are not being treated equally," says Rouse, who also found gender bias in the selection of musicians by orchestras in her own groundbreaking 1997 study. "It suggests this sector is not as productive as it might be and the right plays aren’t getting to audiences.
Lynn Nottage leads off the article by wondering why her play, Ruined,which won the Pulitzer Prize and other prestigious awards can't make it to Broadway.
Hat tip to Isaac.