Just for fun, and because the time between the years (i.e. 25th of December till 6th of January) generates silly ideas, I tried my first big data analysis today. I have been inspired by the frequent notion of the predominance of female curators working for arts exhibitions. Was it just my selective perception, or is there something real behind ?
I used a public German website that provides information on all arts exhibitions during a selected time period. I searched the website www.kunstausstellungen.de for all exhibitions between 01.01.2018 – 31.12.2018. I got a long list (perhaps still anything far from complete) of 210 events, covering private galeries, municipal exhibiton halls and big and famous museums of national and international importance. Of those 210 exhibitions, 181 covered single artists (the remaining 29 were group exhibitions). Counting the male and female artists, these are the results:
144 male artists (79.6 %)
37 female artists (20.4 %).
The common (PC) interpretation of such a gender inequality would usually be that men in their misogynic networks support only each other, and restrict access and visibility of the talented woman.
Well, we all know who selects the artists to be shown in museums and galeries, and these are the above mentioned curators.
Thanks god, at least for some of the 210 exhibitions, also the names of the curators are listed in www.kunstausstellungen.de. Interestingly, the big and famous institutions (like Munich Pinakothek, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Museum Ludwig Koeln etc) rarely gave names (and gender) of the curators. But for 123 exhibitions it was easy to find out if the curator was a woman or a man. And here, the picture of males versus females almost look like a mirror image of what I found for the artists themself. The gender distribution is as following:
34 male curators (27.5%)
89 female curators (72.5%).
In a nice graphic as the consulting folks do it their whole life through, it looks like this:
So this simple analysis easily disproves that male decision makers (i.e. curators) are responsibility for a larger presence of male artists in public life. At least in Germany, and at least in the year 2018, there must be another reason for the imballance of male versus female artist. The same is also true for film directors, and even more for the conductors of orchestres or composers played in the concert hall.
Other interpretation are required, since if one wishes to reach an equal representation in the creative business of male and female actors, one has to understand the reasons for the current un-equallity. And at least the stereotypic explanation that influential men support only other men and at the same time suppress woman, seem to be vastly wrong.