Last night I was giving a short talk and signing books at one of our local art clubs. I happened to notice no men were in the hall. The club has many male members, they assured me, but apparently they don’t come out on rainy nights. Not to listen to me, anyway. I wasn’t crestfallen — I was being sociologically informed. I’ve always noticed the 80/20 split in these organizations, but I knew the full-female thing was just around the corner. Anyway, it was a combined lecture and holiday-season windup, the shortbread was good, and no one asked me to dance.
If you don’t mind, I’m going to lay some statistics on you. Of the 82 new people who signed up for the Twice-Weekly letter yesterday, 56 were women. That’s 68% — which pretty well mirrors our current ratio of 67% women subscribers. Maybe this means females might be more willing to listen to males than males are. If true, one wonders what percentage of males is willing to listen to females.
Yesterday, among the people buying my new book on PayPal, 65% were women. Funnily, more men paid by check-in-the-mail than women. One might conclude women are what social scientists are now calling “early adopters.”
Fact is, women are more into growth, self-improvement, networking and learning than men. In a recent UNESCO study, more women than men got university degrees in 75 of 98 countries. This goes for most professions with the exception of engineering, computer science and math. Some fields are being overwhelmed with women. The vet school in Guelph, Ontario, for example, reports 80% of current grads are women.
The fact that boys lag behind girls in school is well known and not peculiar to our times. Studies show that as early as grade nine girls crave learning more than boys. Apparently the boys are now lagging later and later. The new statistics might be alarming to some. Roles may be reversing. Are men going to be stay-at-home-daddies while the women go out into the world and slay dragons? Is breeding going to grind to a halt? Are women going to be all the doctors, lawyers and artists? And by the way, do men just not want to listen because they already know it all and need to get on with it?
PS: “It’s not ridiculous to say women will have the upper hand in a way they haven’t in the past.” (Economist Ross Finnie, University of Ottawa)
Esoterica: The “demographic bomb,” as it’s being called, may have its short term benefits, but the longer picture is not so rosy, particularly for Western cultures. If women are busy building empires, where will the new customers be coming from? One more statistic and I’ll shut up and get back to my easel: In my four top galleries it looks like 27% of living artists represented are women. Ten years ago it was 24%.
The rise of women
by Michael A. Spronck, Bogart, GA, USA
A retired Management Consultant, I noticed that the majority of art students at the University of Georgia were women. The Director said that most would become interior decorators. Wrong; most continued to study fine art, architecture, graphic design, computer graphics, sculpture, and illustration.
Later, when I attended 50 or more Art Workshops over some 10 years, the female/male ratio was usually 7, 8, or 9 to 1 or 2. The women seemed to me to be more interested in listening and more diligent in their practice. Yes, Robert, the majority and perhaps the best of artists may soon be women. Why? Because more are entering the Business of Art as professionals. They need the money; they are well accepted; and they work hard to succeed! Perhaps, they are also more right-brained.
Over 50 years as a business magazine editor and later management consultant, I witnessed women enter scores of previously male-dominated fields. They believed that they were as skilled as men, but had to work harder to prove it! And they have. Witness the new leaders in medicine, law, politics, television, business management — and art. Most universities report constantly growing female-to-male ratios in all disciplines, except math and science, for bachelor and advanced degrees.
Yes, this is a sociological problem for the Western World and the Middle Class because these talented career-minded females are having no or few children; whereas the emerging nations and disadvantaged families in our nations are having many children. I don’t have a solution; and now I have to get back to my studio.
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Women supported by men
by Suzie Baker, Bahrain
In my admittedly non-statistical analysis of the disproportionate percentage of women to men in Art Societies, Art Leagues, adult art classes and critique groups I’ve been involved in over the years the discrepancy is largely due to that fact that the women who attend do so because their husbands are the primary bread winners allowing them to choose to pursue their artistic interest. In my observations the men who do attend tend to be retired from the career that allowed them to earn a “regular” salary. Perhaps when more women begin switching roles with their husbands and becoming the primary bread winners, more men will be able to choose fine arts careers which, let’s face it, may offer much in the way of satisfaction but a more challenging source of benefits and income than say engineering.
Are we women great at meeting together socially and talking about art but not so good in getting down to the work of art? Hmmm, maybe if we felt a bit more financial pressure through necessity we would work harder to develop our art, market it and learn the business of art.
I hold a degree in Graphic Design and Fine Arts. My husband is a manufacturing manager with a degree in Engineering. We are currently living in the Middle East, Bahrain. My husband is a US expat worker in Saudi Arabia earning a comfortable salary. So after working as an Art Director in ad agencies, quitting and becoming a stay-at-home mom of our two children, now 10 and 12, all the while trying to keep up painting and doing freelance design work for extra income, I am in the enviable position of working mostly full time on my artwork and being a mom. I’m meeting with a critique group once a week (4 women, one man). Participating in art and craft fairs (attended mostly by women) and have two exhibitions scheduled for the spring; interestingly with only women exhibiting.
Early power of women
by Alvin Trott
I was taken by your remarks about women and concern shown about their activity. I do not share this concern as I think they were always ahead of men mentally, although men were always stronger and more aggressive. Women network better than men and as a rule are more ready to share experiences and techniques. History tells us that the first popular and widespread religions were to female goddesses and the leaders of these cults were high priestesses. Men may well have produced the first weapons of attack (clubs and spears) and discovered uses for fire. But I credit women with domesticating animals, and plants, with weaving, and spinning, and grinding grain. High priestesses were in control of the knowledge of how to treat olives to make them edible for humans, and the use of yeasts for baking, wine and beer. This was held as covert knowledge and could only be used by a priestess. This all lead to the growth of civilization, and the spread and multiplication of humans. We are now finding that women may have a genetic advantage in arithmetic and the handling of numbers. The early Pythagoreans were predominantly women and chiefly concerned with the manipulation of numbers, and today, when they do take an interest, are proving very competent.
With the evolution shown in weapons and the growth of competition for prime locations, the strength and aggression of the male came into dominance. They overpowered the matricidal communities and religions and gradually seized the complete control that they have held up to the present generation. I would give men the credit of first using conquered enemies as slaves whose status could easily be identified by their being denied any weapons or clothing. Men still feel dehumanized if stripped naked, and prefer to carry a gun as a symbol of their superiority.
Women’s traditional role
by Martha Faires, Charlotte, NC, USA
I find it almost stifling to be in art groups or in any groups that work toward a gender-neutral goal yet consist of only females. I find the fact that men and women are different to be refreshing and liberating.
Balint Vazsonyi (1936-2003), an astute thinker, said, “…throughout history, whereas men were concerned with the tangible aspects of life, women mostly provided the intangibles, and who is to say which was more important at any given time?!” You state, “Maybe this means females might be more willing to listen to males than males are. If true, one wonders what percentage of males is willing to listen to females.” Isn’t listening an intangible? Vazsonyi, who was a world-class classical musician, also asks a few insightful questions about the arts and gender: “Why literature produced a Jane Austen, but no composer of equivalent stature — no one knows. No political argument, only the appearance of a truly great female composer or conductor could change the picture. But here is food for thought. The liberation of women has not produced anything like another Jane Austen. And, with all the learning mandated, subsidized, coerced, and forced upon women, with all the positions and opportunities handed to women since the early 1970s, Marie Curie (1867-1934) still is the sole great in all the sciences, and no one has even come within a light-year of her accomplishment.”
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Gender problems in schools
by John R Struck, Southern Pines, NC, USA
Your comments regarding the University of Guelph are not restricted to just that institution. Vet schools everywhere are experiencing the same situation. These young women are keen, very capable students and coral many of the undergraduate placement opportunities. The problem for the Veterinarian Profession is what to do about this. It seems that although women dominate the Educational facilities, and graduate in disproportionate numbers to their male counterparts, many do not stay in practice. This is not the case for Male Graduates. In essence, although we graduate lots of Vets, they do not remain Vets. Schools are having a very big problem in deciding how to “Manage” this situation. Do they restrict female applications, and set aside a “Number” of enrollments based on Gender? HUGE PROBLEMS HERE! No one wants to talk about this. It’s all board room conversations, immediately denied whenever the issue is accidentally raised in the clear light of day. I suspect that other professions are suffering a similar fate.
As to the preponderance of women in art groups, etc., it would appear to me that young men are losing the art of conversation, of being willing to engage in casual conversations for its own sake, and see where they lead. To my way of thinking, the Arts are about Processes, not Destinations. Artistic conversations, for lack of a better term, are often sensory, layered, convoluted–often without direction or specific purpose. But all of these characteristics are what make these conversations so rich, so interesting, so inspiring, so memorable.
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Disenfranchised young men
by Daniel F. Gluibizzi, New York, NY, USA
I am a 59-year-old male artist living in NYC, I have a BFA degree. I have two grown sons. I wanted and took the responsibility to acquire and maintain a family sustainable career. I have achieved this. I had to do many different jobs. Sometimes it meant that I could only be the “artist/painter” at midnight.
About your use of statistics. (There was a scientist studying a fly, he pulled off one leg and poked the fly and the fly jumped. He wrote down, “A fly with five leg can jump,” repeating this till he plucked the final leg and poked the fly, but the fly just lay there. He wrote in his notebook “a fly with no legs is deaf.”) Some of your letter today smarts of this kind of “logic.” Short term statistics can show and support concepts that is not really true.
You said, “Fact is, women are more into growth, self-improvement…” I do not entirely agree that women are more and men are less interested, but it may be that it expresses itself differently for men. I think of men’s interest in sports as showing their intensity and desire to understand competition and cooperation in the deepest sense, teaching men how, as a group, they will be able to take care of more than just themselves. (A concept, at risk.)
I long to hear any national and international feminist dialog about what they would do with young boys and men in the world. Though I hold a doubt that they know and understand. Not addressing this is “dangerous.” I mean it in all its seriousness. Disenfranchised young men can morph into brown shirt Fascists in a flash! The art world, in all its facets, may offer the best platform for this dialog as it unfolds.
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Women not recognized
by Mary Erickson, Marshville, NC, USA
Not long ago at a gallery opening, my husband stated that my business was quite the “Old Boys Club.” I had been working too hard at succeeding at my art to have noticed. Now that I pay attention, I see many iniquities in our business. The Salmagundi Club hosted the first “American Masters Show” a couple of years ago in NYC. There were 33 master artists, only three of whom were women. The three were married or involved with one of the male “masters.” Just recently American Artist Magazine promoted The Weekend with the Masters, with similarly unequal ratios of men to women speakers and instructors. Not long ago The Masters of Marine Painting exhibition was hosted at the Union Club in NYC, and no women were represented. The gallery statistic of only 24% women artists only reflects the bias that professional women artists deal with constantly from gallery owners, museums and the general public. Often after stating that I am a professional landscape painter, I am asked what my husband does for a living, and am often told that I am lucky husband supports my endeavors. What I truly am lucky for is a husband that accepts my passion for what I do, and the hard work, sacrifice and hours away from home that go into being successful. Women artists need to realize this situation, and support each other. There are far too many great women artists out there who are not getting the recognition they should in the museums, galleries, books and magazines of our time.
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Men leading men
by Susan Belcher, Wasaga Beach, ON, Canada
I find your stat on representation of living women artists very sad but unfortunately true. Though women have embraced art and dominate numerically in producing and studying art, too many men have come to think of art (and I mean all art with the possible exception of pop music) as frivolous or do not take women artists seriously or find them threatening, women are not getting the recognition they have always deserved financially. Even women are not exempt from this unfortunate prejudice. I speak as a contemporary female artist and teacher. My painting classes are dominated by women while my male peers have no problem filling their classes with admiring men who won’t even entertain taking a class from a woman. I hate to sound so bitter.
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Men ruining everything
by Suzanne Hesh, Tucson, AZ, USA
Oh, yawn… another “fear of women domination” confession. This article is an endorsement for “all artists are men.” Yes, women are going to run the world, yes, we can do it successfully and, yes, it will be a better place than it is now. The newsflash is that male-dominated cultures have ruined pretty much every area of life on the planet with their need for conquest, profit and winning-at-all-costs combined with an insufferable arrogance and a pathological and erroneous belief that their rights must prevail while trampling on the rights of others.
I adore men. I just don’t think they’re fully adult at any age, that they cling to adolescence and lack any interest in or effort toward emotional development or autonomy. Amusingly, they’re filled with the delusion that they rock. I’m not surprised that the statistics scare the heck out of men. Sing: “It is the dawning of the Age of Equality.”
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Different learning styles
by Jini James
As an educator, I listened with great interest to a recent National Public Radio broadcast about differences in learning styles between the sexes. One school in the States is separating the classes and promoting group activities; lots of dialogue and novel approaches to acquiring new skills for the girls. In contrast, boys are provided with learning opportunities that are laced with competition, both on an individual level and as a team. The result? Improved scores all around!
I too, marvel at the sea of faces that are female at most, if not all workshops and meetings. In contrast, I am delighted to be a part of a Guild whose sole purpose is to draw life models, both portrait and figure. On any given day of our sessions the room is predominately composed of men. I am often the only woman present! One of my classroom credos is “Paint to suit your personality.” I have to add “Learn according to your preferences.”
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As long as you are quoting statistics, maybe you could check out some others that are brought to mind, such as: What is the percentage of men vs. women who control or own galleries, who are curators in museums, who determine whose work will be shown in shows? Might be surprising and very interesting.
Also, when it comes to selling artwork, what is the price difference in pieces sold representing works of art produced by men vs. women?
I don’t want to date myself, but when you talk about women vets, I can remember not so very long ago (like 20 years), when a woman trying to break into the vet world had a very hard time: 1. getting a job; 2. getting the same benefits; 3. getting paid on the same level as male counterparts.
What I am saying is, as long as you are going to quote statistics in these newsletters, please provide a balanced approach in terms of the power structure that controls the art world. I would love to see those statistics, and wonder if you will print this.!!
(RG note) Thanks, Kate. Of my current 13 most active galleries, four are owned and run by women. Two others are owned and run by husband and wife teams where the wife plays a most active role. All of my galleries have effective saleswomen who often have a say in who gets hung. Even when galleries are run by females their choice of artists is still predominantly men. We don’t need to look far to find women as curators in museums and public galleries. The job of being an art critic, in Canada anyway, seems about equally divided between men and women, but I’m just guessing from a few names I know because I don’t pay much attention to them. Regarding price differential, a survey of three of my galleries found female prices to average about 30% less than the male prices for a few of the same-sized paintings we tabulated. On the other hand, several (elderly) female artist friends are finally commanding very high prices. For those who might be interested in checking and verifying my own statistics, you can see my galleries under “Dealers” at (www.robertgenn.com).
The usurpation of the male
by Tom Werdin, Cape Coral, FL, USA
Women are social animals, quite literally. They gather for a variety of reasons… listening to you lecture is not the most important of the reasons why most women gather despite your acumen, I would submit.
Men (versus women) will not gather for a lecture simply for reasons of social acceptance, interchange and note-comparing. A few will gather for future building blocks’ philosophical reasons. Men want to stand alone on their own identity. They won’t pay attention to what is the present clothing fad.
Men are choosing to have their leadership usurped by women through a behavior and conditioning process which starts in early years of adolescence. The girls alone establish an importance of school grades’ criteria in formative years by use of simple will power, social networking, communicating what the teacher wants and how he/she grades (curve or?) and the female goal of determining just how much effort is needed for a target grade. Grading criteria is something men rarely inquire about. It’s as simple as that.
It is the rare teacher, professor who sees through this onslaught of females’ “knowing the answer before the question is given”; teachers will grade their students’ response to their own agenda and criteria. The boys take a C while the girls fret over an A-.
Boys are getting put down for being boys. They therefore won’t take leadership from weak male leaders who surround them, or from women.
Boys will get their education on their own, and later, each as a man has a story to tell why he is doing what he is doing.
This absence of desire to be what boys are, this lack of identity has brought decreasing male leadership.
Few men have the spirit or courage to fight city hall. They follow up with drug, sex and power struggles that only God knows how to approach. Most of it shows a lack of integrity, though many think they are destined for glory without it.
Men through their acquired insecurity desire, and some achieve, deeper thinking which takes far more time to form building blocks. They have more pride than women in gaining personal insight and a competitive edge but comparison is mostly between other men. But that doesn’t account for much on the human stage.
Men substitute specific grades-point targets with more general knowledge. The women are far more pragmatic.
The majority of the time men don’t want competition with females and if there is competition they are willing to give up a relationship with females to avoid it; or they are willing to abuse that relationship out of simple insecurity.
Our nation is already paying for this usurpation with more sleeping-around, fewer marriages, more aberrant behavior, less fellowship and less integrity. Men and women are critically lacking in spiritual acumen, and that is simply defined as honesty. It’s worse for our nation that males don’t have integrity than it is for girls not having it.
What is appalling is this Nation, this Media, and politicking are encouraging these gender aberrations and this breakdown of male potency. There will be more females born, more destructive relationships, more accommodating of female needs and demands. The few men who will lead will pay a huge price. A few might find it worth the effort.
Males have chosen to run from their destiny with a spirit of compromise toward their gender. Women are filling the void. Some know enough not to fill it. I am married forty-eight years to one.
I paint pastels for sale and recreation. Almost all the artists are women. They run the sales, the trends, the purchasing, the juried shows, the art associations, well, you know the gambit. I am getting a little closer to my identity. ha.
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watercolour painting by
You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.
That includes Mary Moquin who wrote, “An interesting discussion on female artists vs. male artists here. So maybe we women just have to work a lot harder to be taken seriously in this field as in most which would explain your high turnout.”
And also Adelyn Cooper who wrote, “I’m no longer a flight instructor because it was so hard to get men over the age of 15 to listen to me. I live a stone’s throw from Johnson Space Center, and all the men around here are engineers; did they want to listen to a secretary tell them how to fly an airplane?”
And also Roger Davis of Aspen, CO, USA, who wrote, “Forget about it and paint.”
Enjoy the past comments below for When all the artists are women…