AAAE 2021 Virtual Conference...
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Monday, May 24 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
2 PM ET: Institutional Sexism and the #MeToo Movement: Highly Adaptive Women Leaders Work for Radical Transformation and Gender Equity in the American Theatre

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How have accomplished female leaders co-existed in theatres alongside sexual harassment and systemic power imbalances? How have women in arts management been defined, shaped and challenged by underlying gender bias and inherent sexism? How does gender-influenced expression and expectations effect women in their jobs and career progress in the theatre?

Inspired by our personal experiences and the stories of many female colleagues, through a series of interviews with 17 women leaders in the American Theatre (including executive directors, artistic directors, general managers and producers) a complex picture emerges of the impact of the #MeToo movement on gender equity and leadership in the performing arts. While celebrating the progress women have achieved over the last three decades, two generations of female leaders reflect on the significant work still needed to address sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace.

The #MeToo movement puts a new focus on the urgent need for revised workplace policies that support an equitable and safe creative environment for all employees. Women are overwhelmingly carrying the burden of responsibility to recognize and call out inappropriate behaviors in the theatrical workplace. Mentorship has played a tremendous role for today’s leaders and now they are thinking about how they can equitably support the next generations of leaders (women and men) through mentoring. Intersectional race, gender and sexual identities impact assumptions about women in leadership positions and more research is needed.
Our research includes a literature review of the occurrence of sexual harassment and the impact of the #MeToo movement in theatre and related fields and it reveals, sadly, that not only has the theatre community not escaped gender-based biases and behavior, even with so many women leaders but, in some instances, it has accepted or even hidden these discriminatory and illegal behaviors.

What emerges from this research is the persistent assumption that women will adapt in whatever way necessary to correct systemic power imbalances inherent in the institutional theatre model. This adaptive behavior includes: women leaders balancing differently the demands of their jobs and families; the careful advance research and choices women make about who they want to work for and in what organizations and communities; women leaders’ purposeful choices about how they physically express both their gender and leadership style from their choice of clothing and hair, to the use of their literal and creative voices; how women actively manage work relationships and communication strategies with supervisors, colleagues and staff; and the priority women place on identifying role models early in their careers and, over time, mentoring and protecting their women employees and future female leaders.

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avatar for Diane Claussen

Diane Claussen

The Theatre School at DePaul University
Diane is Head of Theatre Management at The Theatre School at DePaul University and Managing Partner of 3C Theatre Partners, an arts consulting practice based in Chicago. Prior to joining the faculty at DePaul in 2018, she was the Managing Director of the Wirtz Center for the Performing... Read More →

Monday May 24, 2021 2:00pm - 3:00pm EDT
Online - please register