Monday 10 March 2014


Someone asked me this weekend if I was conscious of being the first woman to run The Dowse. Occasionally I am - but these times are usually the times when I'm feeling "not": not old enough, not experienced enough, not tall enough (honestly, I think more about my height than my age, career or gender. It strikes me I would feel so much more confident in most elements of my life if I was, say, 5'8" rather than whatever it is I am.)

Even after being interviewed last year on this topic, I don't have many fully-formed opinions on this topic. Those I do have are inflected by the Lean In philosophy (or as I tend to think of it, the 'quit making excuses' philosophy, but that's mostly because I was uninterested when I read it in the partnering and parenting chapters).

I do think frequently about the gender split that I have a hunch is occurring in our industry: women in the marketing / curatorial / visitor services / education / collection management side of operations, men in exhibition management / facilities / business ops (of course, for every example of one you're going to find me another). And New Zealand's cup does runneth over right now with women art gallery (if not museum) directors.

Anyway. All this is a meandering preamble to two recent articles: this Washington Post feature on woman directors in the capital's museums, and this NYT article on a recent study by the AAMD on the gender split in American and Canadian directors' salaries. Some of the key findings (summarised by Jerome Weeks):

  • Out of the 211 directors included in the AAMD survey, 90 directors were female; women held 42.6% of art museum directorships. 
  • On average, female directors earned $.79 cents for $1 that male directors earned.  (In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median pay of women nationwide is 82% of that of men.) 
  • Segmented by operating budget, these gender disparities are concentrated in museums with a budget of over $15 million – roughly the top quarter of museums.  In this segment of museums, there are fewer female directors than male directors, and female directors earn less on average than their male counterparts – $.71 cents for $1 a male earns. 
  • At museums with budgets under $15 million, the number of female directors is nearly equal to the number of male directors, and, on average, the women earn slightly more ($1.02 for every $1 a male director earns)


Robyn said...

I'll tell you what - you don't have an aura of short-arsedness about you. I'm 5'9" and if you'd asked me to estimate your height, I would have probably guessed about the same as me.

That's not to say I walk around all the time like "I'm 5'9" - hellz yeah!" But it's as much about attitude than centimetres.

Courtney Johnston said...

Hah! Inside my head, I'm the same height as anyone who's not 6 foot something. Good to know the cognitive dissonance is creating the right aura.