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Statistics about
women artists in the art world

There are lies, damned lies and statistics !

Statistics may give us some indication of changes in women artists' involvement in the art world and their hierarchical distribution across its institutions (i.e. the largest numbers of women can always be found the bottom of the cultural scale of value and prestige, and the fewest at the top). Statistics are always a retrospective snapshot, they are not a prescription of the level of participation alloted to women. In this sense, they are neither self-evident, nor are they self-explanatory. The same statistics can be used negatively to reinforce as much as positively to challenge current social and cultural policies. What they measure and the methods used to collect or analyse them should be questioned when it comes to assessing positive measures for change in the position of the woman artist. (Last Updated: April 2024)

Remember : Statistical analyses of the presence or visibility of women artists have been done repeatedly during the last 30 years in an effort to outline the numbers of women involved in the art world and the levels of discrimination at work in their participation. This page lists several surveys related to the position of women artists in exhibitions, museums, in the cultural industries in general and in art education.

Please send any details of other surveys of the position of the contemporary woman artist (1970-present) anywhere in the world to:

European Community

Danielle Cliche, Ritva Mitchell, Andreas Joh. Weisand Pyramid or Pillars: Unveiling the Status of Women in Arts and Media Professions in Europe (Germany: ARCult Media/ERICarts/ZfKf, 2001). This survey looked at 8 European countries and the situation of women in all the arts and in the media in Austria, Finland, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK. On the visual arts, it finds women artists' presence at between 38%-45% of all artists, 30-60% of art students, 3%-20% of lecturers and professors. Appendices also contain useful information on women artists' situation in Croatia and the Czech Republic. This report is also discussed in Arsis (Helskinki, Arts Council of Finland) special issue on Women in the Arts/Changing Landscapes 02/2000.

Prof. Helmut K. Anheier,'Gender Equality Policy in the Arts, Culture and MediaComparative Perspectives' (Hertie School of Governance with support from the German government’s Commissioner for Culture and Media, 2017) looks at all art forms in France, Italy, Poland, The Netherlands, Sweden and UK.Read PDF here.


Annette Van Den Bosch "Women Artists' Careers: Public Policy and the Market" in Alison Beale and Bosch (eds) Ghosts in the Machine: Women and Cultural Policy in Canada and Australia. Ontario: Garamond Press, 1998. Critical analysis drawn from different surveys of the position of the women artist in Australia in the last 20 years, especially the 1984 and 1988 surveys of Australia Arts Council on strategies for women artists.

Eric Riddler "Survey Results" in Joan Kerr and Jo Holder (ed) Past/Present: The National Women's Art Anthology (Australia: Craftsman House, 1999) pp.159-168. Lists figures of museum acquisitions, solo shows in Australia from 1975-1995.

CoUNTesses (2010-present) blog reviewing Australian institutions for representation of women in the arts, notably Sydney Biennale. Full 2014 Countess Report


Alison Cooley, Amy Luo and Caoimhe Morgan-Feir Canada's Galleries Fall Short: The Not So Great White North (statistics from 2012-2015) Canadian Art, April 21 2015

see also 2007 Waging Culture survey of artists' working conditions by Michael Miranda (Art Gallery of York University) (Revised by AGYU, 2012) and Hill Strategies A Statistical Profile of Artists and Cultural Workers in Canada: Summary (2010-2018).
Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council, report by Amanda Coles et al. Full report: The Status of Women in the Canadian Arts and Cultural Industries: Research Review 2010-2018.
Compare to: Avis Lang Rosenberg 'Women Artists and the Canadian Art World: A Survey' Atlantis 5, no. 1 (Fall 1979) for information from 1960, 1970, 1976.
And Joyce Zemans and Amy Wallace 'Where are the Women: Updating the Account!' (RACAR XXXVIII | Number 1 | 2013) on 1998-2012.


Annette Brinkmann, Andreas Joh. Weisand Frauen im Kultur- und Medienbetrieb III: Fakten zu Berufssituation und Qualifizierung / Women in the Arts and Media: Qualification and Professional Outlook (Germany: Zentrums Fur Kulturforschung, 2001). German text, English summary. Contains analysis of the presence of women in the visual arts in Germany.

Fenja Braster and Sandra Sartori "Frauenpräsenz in Ausstellungen Dusseldorfer Kunstinstitutionen, 1993-1998" (Dusseldorf: Kulturamt der Landeshauptstadt Dusseldorf/HSRG, June 1999). A detailed study of the presence in women at all levels of the German museum and gallery system. Figures also available on the web: Frauenpräsenz in Ausstellungen Dusseldorfer Kunstinstitutionen, 1993-1998

Susanne Albrecht, Irene Below, Angela Kahre Die Vorteile des Künstlerinnendaseins. Zur Beruflichen Situation von Bildenden Künstlerinnen aus Ostwestfalen-Lippe und zu ihrer Präsenz in Ausstellungsinstitutionen, Verbänden und Netzwereken seit 1970 Irene Below, Lydia Plöger (Hrsg.) Bielefeld: IFF-Forschungsreihe Bd 11, Bielefeld Universität. - University research study of the situation of women artists in Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Germany.

Katrin Hassler Kunst und Gender: Zur Bedeutung von Geschlecht für die Einnahme von Spitzenpositionen im Kunstfeld(Transcript Verlag, 2017) - also article, 'On Gender Statistics in the Art Field and Leading Positions in the International Sphere' in volume 39 (Jan 2017) of n.paradoxa


'The Gender Gap' Circa 100, Summer 2002, Analysis of publication history after 100 issues by Hilary Robinson pp36-41.


International Foundation for Women Artists –
IFWA blog post summarising research on women artists in Korea from 2007 and 2010

The Netherlands

Pauline Barrie "The Art Machine Part 2" Women Artists Slide Library Journal (London) Feb/March 1988 no. 21 pp.16-17. Figures researched by Fre Meijer, Nicole Roeperts, Sya Stam & Annet Zondervam for SVBK, Amsterdam, report surveys the Stedelijk, Van Abbemuseum, Kröller-Müller Museum, and some major international exhibitions, 1977-1986.

Astrid Kerchman and Pauline Salet's Report for MamaCash The Position of Women Artists in Four Art Disciplines in the Netherlands, Jan 2019.


Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation report 'Little Chance to Advance?'An Enquiry into the Presence of Women at Art Academies in Poland. Available on ISSU
An excellent 2016 study, available in English, to download, on the situation of women artists in art academies in Poland, as both teachers and students, with a historical overview and examination of the reasons why discrimination persists.


MAV has collected statistics about the situation of women in the visual arts in Spain since its founding in 2009. These are available online in MAV's Observatorio. These now form the basis of complaints to the government of public institutions failing to maintain the 2007 legislation in Spain which prohibited discrimination against women in the arts.(Artículo 26. La igualdad en el ámbito de la creación y producción artística e intelectual).


Marita Flisbäck (2012) 'Creating a Life: The Role of Symbolic and Economic Structures in the Gender Dynamics of Swedish Artists 1028-6632', Downloadable report: GUP 156696

Marita Flisbäck (2011) 'A Survey of Artists’ Income from a Gender Perspective - Economy, Work, and Family Life', Downloadable Report: GUP 156701

The Yes!Assocation Equal Opportunities Agreements (2005, 2010)


Pauline Barrie "The Art Machine" Women Artists Slide Library Journal Dec 1987-1988 no. 20. p.8-9 - Figures on exhibitions at the Tate, Hayward Gallery, John Moores Liverpool Exhibition prize and lecturers in art education.

Pam Skelton "Women and Art Education" (National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education) NATFHE Journal May/June 1985 pp.18-21. Overview of the relationship between women teachers and women students in art schools. Women Working in the Arts (London: Arts Council of England document, 1992)

East London Fawcett Society Audit (2012) Read the actual results online
(The link is to a Google excel spreadsheet). (The ELF figures are simplified, rehashed and updated to 2014 in Charlotte Bonham Carter's report on 'Representation of Female Artists in Britain', Freelands Foundation) and updated again in the Research Paper No.4: Representation of Female Artists in Britain in 2017 (Freelands Foundation, 2018, 2019).

Victoria Turner (2002). 'The Factors Affecting Women's Success in Museum Careers: A Discussion of the Reasons More Women Do Not Reach the Top, and of Strategies to Promote their Future Success'. Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies 8, pp.6–10.


Ann Kalmbach 'The position of women artists within the aesthetic community' (Rochester Institute of Technology, MFA thesis from 1974, downloaded as PDF from link) brings together work on statistics from the early 1970s women's art movement in the USA on galleries and art schools because it cites many reports and surveys 1970-1974.

R. Rosen and C. Brauer (eds) Making their Mark:Women Artists Move into the Mainstream,1970-1985 (USA, Abbeville Press,1989). Ferris Olin has compiled an good overview of women artist's visibility in art journals, exhibitions and analysis of different US arts organisations in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Guerrilla Girls The Banana Report: The Guerrilla Girls Review the Whitney (exhibition catalogue, The Clocktower, New York, 1987). See also the Guerrilla Girls website.

Women's Action Committee WAC Stats: The Facts about Women (New York: New Press, 1993)

Take a look at recent studies by the National Endowment for the Arts on their website, and look for the Women Artists: 1990-2005 (December 2008). Research Note #96 (downloaded as PDF). Their additional analysis of the situation of artists points to discrimination, lower incomes and significant under-representation of women artists in many cultural fields, including fine art. One significant finding is that the numbers of married women amongst artists are the same as for all women in the working population but that the proportion who are also mothers is 6% lower than in the general population. See also: NEA report on Women and Minorities: 1970 (published, 1977) and correction to the figures from 1980.

Brainstormers Reports (2006-present)

Working Artists and the Greater Economy WoManifesto (2008-present). 2010 Survey of the position on the waged labour of art workers and non-profit arts organisations (New York). Core organiser: Lise Soskolne. The 2010 W.A.G.E. Survey is amongst other WAGE documents.

Micol Hebron The Gallery Tally Poster Project: A Call for Gender Equity in the Art World article in Brooklyn Rail( 4 Sept 2014)
Gallery Tally Project is housed on Tumblr

The Gender Gap amongst Art Museum Directorships Association of Art Museum Directorships, 2014

Maura Reilly 'Taking the Measure of Sexism: Facts, Figures, and Fixes' ARTNEWS 26 May 2015

Please send any details of other surveys of the position of the contemporary woman artist 1970-present to
If you have any critiques of these surveys, please email your comments.