Leading women

Women still lag behind men in the arts – especially in leadership roles. Hilary Carty (one of our guest lecturers) looks at the issues that lie behind the figures.

The issue of women in leadership elicits strong, often contradictory opinions. Whilst some lament the lack of female role models and a decline in priority actions, others list a stream of high profile women as evidence of progress. To fill the void of empirical evidence the Cultural Leadership Programme (CLP) commissioned ‘Women in Leadership in the Creative and Cultural Sector’ in 2008. The research showed that, despite a strongly heterogeneous cultural sector, the leadership of the sector remains distinctly male. There are 2.5 male leaders to every female leader and, although women are prizing their industry qualifications, their male counterparts are pushing to the top regardless. One statistic I found particularly intriguing was that only 75% of women see their future as senior leaders (against 100% of men): is that due to a lack of confidence? An unwillingness to enter the macho ‘bullring’ of male management teams? Or are women making an empowered choice to ‘have it all’ – mixing family and career in a life-style decision that asserts a healthy balance of power and profile? Dr Donna Ladkin’s research1 indicates all of the above.


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(first published on www.artsprofessional.co.uk)