Create PDF Recommend Print


What we're reading...

Here we keep an eye on what is being said about the position of women in the performing arts in the media - we collate all the articles here with a link to the original article where possible. If you think we've missed an important story, please email us at and we will include it!

We are also busy on Twitter, tweeting interesting articles. Follow us @sphinxtheatre

Theatre should reflect society and boldly imagine ways for it to change

Playwrights must make more conscious choices about the characters we write

Samantha Ellis, The Guardian,3rd April 2015

Women Centre Stage event hears ACE call for action on equality

Industry figures have called for the sector to be more accountable when it comes to diversity and equality in the arts

Georgia Snow, The Stage,30th March 2015

Emma Watson's back with a powerful gender equality speech at Davos

Emma Watson has delivered a powerful follow-up to her much lauded speech on gender equality at the United Nations last September. 



Vicky Featherstone: 'More needs to be done to support women in the sector' 

Royal Court Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone has called for women with children in the theatre industry to be better supported, claiming that most cannot afford childcare. 

David Hutchinson, The Stage,7th March 2015

Let modesty blaze: the frail egos holding women back

Female students may outshine their male counterparts but a lack of confidence is choking their careers, writer Sian Griffiths. Time then, for a new kind of class. 

Sian Griffiths, The Sunday Times, 8th February 2015

Jude Kelly claims gender equality is "still a dangerous subject" in the arts 

Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly has said the arts has a responsibility to highlight the "dangerous subject" of gender imbalances affecting women in the industry.

David Hutchinson, The Stage, 27th January 2015

How feminism conquered pop culture

 Alice Vincent explains how 2014 was the year it became cool to use the F word. 

Alice Vincent, The Telegraph,30th December 2014

Listen up! Women are telling their story now  

Despite the ongoing pandemic of violence against women, the threats online and the harrasment on the streets, women's voices assumed an uprecedented power in 2014.

Rebecca Solnit, The Guardian, 30th December, 2014

Haydn Gwyne and Rosemary Squire call for quotas on women's theatre

Actor Haydn Gwyne and Ambassador Theatre Group joint Chief Executive Rosemary Squire have called for quotas on the number of jobs for women in theatre, in order to combat the "frightening" gender imbalance in the industry.

David Hutchinson, The Stage, 27th November 2014

Grayson Perry: The rise and fall of Default Man

How did the straight, white, middle class Default Man take control of our society and how can he be dethroned?

Grayson Perry, 8th October, 2014

Theatre's gender inequality is shocking - but change is in the air! 

With Agatha Christie the only female playwright represented in London's West End, a Tonic Theatre initiative is taking aim at the traditional gender imbalance in British playhouses. 

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, 22 September 2014

Hamlet Review- "Frankom is in effect creating Britains first mainstream feminist theatre

 The gender switches in Sarah Frankom's Hamlet may unsettle for a moment but they do not distort the play.  

Susannah Clapp, The Observer, 21 September 2014

As the 'Calm Down Dear' Festival returns, who are British theatre's Feminist heroes ?

With women still under-represented across the industry, leading names nominate their feminist icons. 

Holly Williams, The Independent, 14th september 2014

Maxine Peake: More actresses should play male roles

Maxine Peake has said she hopes playing Hamlet will make it easier for women to fill male roles because Sheakespeare's female parts are "quite problematic" 

Ian Youngs, BBC News, 28th August 2014

Enough is enough: from tv's 'crimeporn' to endemic violence, the assault on women has to stop

Violent images of women onscreen fuel violence against women in society. Actress Doon Mackichan explains why she now has a zero tolerance policy on taking part in any storyline that us violence against women as entertainment. 

Doon Mackichan,New Statesman, 4th July, 2014

#BBC Trending: Do ads such as #LikeAGirl make a difference?

Ann Marie Tomchak, BBC News, 3rdJuly, 2014

Katherine Hepburn in 'The African Queen' is the Ideal Action Film Heroine 

Jennine Lanouette has created a comprehensive video showing why Katherine Hepburn's character exemplifies what every female action star should be like today. 

Eric Eidelstein, Indiewire, June 25th 2014

Female President of Equity?

Jean Rogers campaigns to become the first female president of Equity in 70 years.  

Totally4Women, May 25th, 2014

How can wikipedia woo women editors?

Women make up only 9% of wikipedia editors. Educators say raising that number is key to improving the online encyclopaedia , and have started campaigns to do just that. 

Lynsea Garrison, BBC News magazine, 8th April 2014

Film4 boss Tessa Ross to join National Theatre

Channel 4 and Film 4's Tessa Ross, one of Britain's most powerful film and TV executives, is leaving to become the National Theatre's new chief executive. 

Will Gompertz, BBC News, 26th March 2014 

The men who help fight back against everyday sexism

The battle against sexism isn't going to be won with only half the population on board. Here are some inspiring examples of men standing up against sexism.

Laura Bates, The Guardian, 14 March 2014

 Video games need more women - and asking for that won't end the world

Here are five common arguments against developers adding more female characters - and why they are wrong.

Keza MacDonald, The Guardian, 19th February 2014 

 Art+ Feminism Adds 100 Women Artists to Wikipedia in One Day  

If you have ever tried to research women artists on the Internet, you know that it can be a frustrating process.  Younger women artists may have websites, but many women artists from previous generations or from countries with limited Internet access cannot be found online at all. Others have very short entries that do not reflect the full scope of their work.

Art + Feminism invites women around the world to take charge of this situation by adding as many entries to Wikipedia as possible. On February 1, 2014, they staged the first-ever Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon at the Eyebeam Art and Technology Centerin New York City. The goals of the event were to create more Wikipedia entries about women, art, feminism, and related topics and to encourage more women to add their voices to Wikipedia.

The 150 New York participants were given training about creating Wikipedia entries, free childcare, and refreshments. Experienced Wikipedia editors were paired with beginners to guide them through their first entries and cheer them on. The New York group was joined by another 500 people in 30 satellite locations in 6 countries. Together they created over 100 new Wikipedia entries focused on women and the arts.

This work is extremely important because Wikipedia is the ninth most popular site on the internet with 117 million users. According to a Pew Research Center Study, 53% of American Internet users look for information on Wikipedia, but most of the information they are finding is written by and for men. According to aWikimedia Foundation study, 9 out of 10 contributors to Wikipedia are male.

Many women's arts organizations have worked to increase the visibility of women artists online. WomenArts created our online directory of women artists, the WomenArts Network, in 2003 because we wanted to encourage women to increase their presence on the web. Any woman artist can create a free profile page on our site, and we currently have about 1,600 active profiles. We have also compiled a list of other directories of women artists. If you know of a directory that should be added to our list, please contact us.

It is important to keep adding information to our women-controlled websites, since Wikipedia has rules and a culture that will be challenging for some women artists, but we agree with the founders of Art + Feminism that we need to make sure that women artists are fully represented in this online encyclopedia that so many people are using.

Documenting women artists worldwide in all art forms is a huge task that will require input from thousands of women, but it is something that all of us can work on - either on our own or in groups. If you are looking for something to do with your friends this year on SWAN Day, this could be a great choice. If you are a teacher, this could be a great project for your students. 

Art + Feminism has created some excellent Wikipedia articles to help you get started. There is an article about how to organize an edit-a-thon MeetUp group, and their Wikipedia Meet-up page has links to upcoming edit-a-thons and helpful articles about creating and editing Wikipedia listings.

Thanks so much to the organizers who came up with this idea - Siân Evans (Art Libraries Society of North America - Women and Art Special Interest Group), Jacqueline Mabey (The office of failed projects), Michael Mandiberg, Laurel Ptak (Eyebeam Fellow), Dorothy Howard (Metropolitan New York Library Council), and Richard Knipel (Wikimedia NYC).

It is wonderful to think about what we can accomplish if women all over the world start writing about each other online.There is so much that needs to be said!


Dervla Kirwan today warned Britain was in danger of losing a generation of female stars because of a shortage of roles for older women. 

Anna Dubuis, The Evening Standard, 22nd January 2014

 Casting Women : A tale of sleaze and exploitation 

Casting calls expose different standards of expectation when it comes to male and female acting roles.

Alice Vincent, The Telegraph, 9th January 2014 

 Emma Thompson calls for more actresses to be cast in male roles

Emma Thompson says that "gender-blind" casting is the way ahead as it affords new ways of looking at classics.

 Tim Walker, The Telegraph, 7th January 2014 

 The Fourth Wave of Feminism: meet the rebel women

The women's movement may have been in hiding through the 'ladette' years , but in 2013 it has come back with a vengeance. Introducing the new feminists taking the struggle to the web- and the streets. 

Kira Cochrane, The Guardian, 10th December 2013

Lucy Kerbel: 100 Great Plays for Women

More females study drama and buy theatre tickets yet their lives are under-represented on stage. In her new guide to plays that put women in the limelight, director Lucy Kerbel hopes to redress the balance.

Rosamund Urwin, The Evening Standard, 6th November 2013

There is No Fair Representation of Women

BBC's contoller of language services on the 100 women season.

Emine Saner, The Guardian. 21st October 2013

 Gender Equality Requires Context

Sue Parrish's letter to the editor.

The Stage 24th October 2013

 Equity urges action over female stereotypes on stage and TV

"Equity has called on the government to lead a crackdown on the use of female stereotypes in television and theatre"

Matt Hemley, The Stage, 19th September 2013

 Did Shakespeare Sell Women Short?

(What a certian Sue Parrish has been saying for years... ed) "The RSC is turning to Jacobean drama in search of better roles for women. So does the Shakespearean tradition hold actresses back?..."

Vanessa Thorpe, The Observer 14th September 2013

Young Feminists join together to 'organise a world without sexism'

"'There is a lot more to it than older women, talking about the 70s, it attracts a young audience.' UK feminists have had a good year..."

Tess Reidy, The Observer 18th August 2013

College Girls Go Wild

"I was, until recently, blissfully unaware of the sacrifices my not-too-distant relations had made to win us the right to education..."

Jessica Swale, The Evening Standard, 6th August 2013

Woman on a Mission

"Vicky Featherstone is shaking things up for her first season at the helm of the Royal Court..."

Fiona Mountford, The Evening Standard, 31st July 2013

Show's over for male theatre bosses

*sorry - this is a link to the Times Firewall, but we can't find this great article anywhere else! But have a look into what AurelieFilippetti is up to across the water... ed* "Women head only five of France's 34 national drama centres. 'Too old, too male' that is the verdict of the French Culture Minister on her country's cultural elite."

Adam Sage, The Times, 29th July 2013 

 Hollywood so rarely makes films about women...

"...that the supply of female stars has dried up. WHy have they got it so wrong? The disappearance of intelligent movies"

Christopher Goodwin, The Sunday Times, 14th July 2013

 Dramas where women never call the shots

"The flagship dramas of the BBC and ITV did not have a single female director last year, a study has found..."

Bee Rowlatt, The Sunday Telegraph, 7th July 2013

 Meet the new wave of activists making Feminism thrive...

"Madonna and Beyoncé are championing female empowerment, Spare Rib is to relaunch, and Facebook has had to respond to pressure to tackle misogyny. Tracy McVeigh reports on the return of the F-word"

Tracy McVeigh, The Observer, 2nd June 2013

Parents helped to boost girls' ambition

"Womens Minister Maria Miller to offer parents guide to boosting girls' ambition"

Daniel Boffey and Heather Stewart, The Observer, 2nd June 2013

 It's high time more women ran the arts

"Women in the arts have been in the news this week - but sadly not for the right reasons,."

Sarah Crompton, The Telegraph 30th March 2013

British arts and theatre: women's time in the spotlight has arrived

"Women are finally getting the chance to make a massive impact in the arts, argues the Observer's theatre critic."

Susannah Clapp, The Observer 24th March 2013

 It's a Man's World...But why is sexism ingrained in the arts?

"Once again, the top jobs at two major British cultural institutions, the BBC and the Royal Opera House, have gone to male appointees."

Vanessa Thorpe, The Observer 24th March 2013

  Where did the Real Women Go?

"The new leading lady is bold and brave. She’s also weird, obsessive and often deeply damaged. It’s a novel kind of misogyny and it’s taking over our screens."

Tanya Gold, The Sunday Times 10th February 2013

 A Common Problem I see in Plays by Women

"As women we are taught to be reactive."

Melissa Hillman, Blog 21st January 2013

 Women in Theatre: Stand Up

"It's a relief to know that what I regularly see – so few women on stage, so few plays written or directed by women – is not just me feeling left out. As the research published in the Guardian into the representation of women in British theatre proved: I am a woman and therefore I am left out. Yes, British theatre often leaves out anyone who is not white, male, middle class and able-bodied, but women are not a minority. When we leave women out of our casting, our programming, we doubly disadvantage women who are part of any minority..."

The Guardian - Stella Duffy 12 December 2012

 Women in Theatre: How the 2:1 Problem Breaks Down

Breakdown of the Guardian Survey's statistics

The Guardian - Posted by Amy Sedghi, 10 December 2012

Women in Theatre: The Key Statistics

New research by the Guardian in collaboration with Elizabeth Freestone shows a troubling picture about the role of women in English theatre. Here's a summary of our most significant findings

The Guardian - 11 December 2012

Women in Theatre: Why do so few make it to the top?

In a special report, Charlotte Higgins asks leading figures why women are still underrepresented at every level of the business – and what needs to change

The Guardian - Charlotte Higgins 10 December 2012

 Can an All Women Julius Caesar Work?

For Lloyd, the answer is a straightforward feminist one: she wishes, in a small way, to redress the gender imbalance that she sees around her every day in the theatre...

The Guardian - Charlotte Higgins 19 November 2012

Parade's End Director says Sexism is Still Rife in Drama World

Susanna White, who directed BBC2's costume drama hit, says TV is still plagued by sexism...

The Guardian -  Maggie Brown 9/September/2012

 Olympic Suffragettes Regroup for Women's Rights March on Parliament

London 2012 opening ceremony inspires performers to become modern-day activists and join UK Feminista in rights rally...

The Guardian -  Alexandra Topping 19/August/2012

A Turning Point for Women in Dance

Women in dance have been most powerful during periods of transition – early modern dance, early 20th-century ballet, the new dance waves of 1960s New York and 1980s London. Perhaps in the 21st century we can hope for more visible – and lasting – success...

The Guardian -  Judith Mackrell 19/August/2012

Why is Theatre so Male, White and Middle-Class?

Women need to see ourselves reflected on stage, and off it too. It's not just the number of roles available to women (although there is no reason why there shouldn't be an all-female company producing Shakespeare) that creates the imbalance, but the fact that British theatre remains predominantly male when it comes to writers and directors. But then it is also predominantly white and middle class too, and those are issues that urgently need addressing as much as gender imbalances. Only when they are will our stages reflect the real world...

The Guardian -  Lyn Gardner 2/July/2012

Actors Union Rallies Theatres to Create More Roles for Women

Janet Suzman among high-profile thespians highlighting lack of opportunity that reflects wider imbalance in society. Janet Suzman is an actor who, by way of the RSC, has scaled the heights of the classical repertory, playing Shakespeare's women from Ophelia to Volumnia.

But it is a career that remains "really frustrating", she says, because "there aren't bloody well enough parts for women"...

The Guardian -  Charlotte Higgins 29/June/2012

Gender Equality at Hampstead Theatre

There have been discussions in the media this week questioning Hampstead Theatre’s policy towards Gender Equality in our programming.

Hampstead Theatre does not, and has never, excluded women from its productions as a matter of policy...

Hampstead Theatre Response - 28/June/2012

Hampstead's Missing Women

The current season at Hampstead Theatre’s main stage shows little regard for female performers’ right to work or for actual women being represented. The theatre is currently showing Chariots of Fire, with a cast of 18 men and three women, and will then show the DruidMurphy trilogy, with 13 male and four female roles. This is to be followed by Shakespeare’s Henry V and The Winter’s Tale, both performed by an all-male company with no roles at all for women.

Hampstead Theatre is a subsidised theatre in receipt of public funding, and as such has a duty to respect equality and diversity...

The Stage - Edward Pleasance 28/June/2012

Being Ignored and the Suggestion of a Monstrous Regime

When we do not see ourselves on stage we are reminded, yet again, that the people running our world (count the women in the front benches if you are at all unsure) DO NOT NOTICE WHEN WE’RE NOT THERE. That they think men (and yes, white, middle class, middle aged, able-bodied men at that) are ALL we need to see. We are reminded they think that we women – who buy more than 70% of theatre tickets after all – are fine with seeing season after season of theatre (and films, and TV) written by men, about men. Or even (and this is where it gets really interesting) written by women about men. The young women playwrights currently in the ascendency have clearly noticed this, noticed that they are likely to be taken more seriously, that their work is more likely to be produced, if it’s about men. Just as the young women directors are directing plays about men. (It’s certainly a way to make sure you’re not lumped in the ‘women’s writing’/'women’s theatre’ ghetto. Sigh. Assuming it is possible to be in a ghetto made up of 52% of the population?!)...

Not Writing but Blogging - Stella Duffy 27/June/2012

 Subsidised Theatres Have Too Few Female Roles

Actors' union finds male roles outnumber female roles by average of two to one in publicly funded companies...

The Guardian - Alexandra Topping 27/June/2012

No Equal Opportunities on Stage for our Female Actors

IT has come to our attention that the programming throughout the current season on the main stage at Hampstead Theatre shows little regard for female performers’ right to work or for actual women being represented...

Camden New Journal - Edward Pleasance 21/June/2012

Are Women Getting any Closer to Equality in Theatre?

Men still dominate the big jobs in performing arts. And I have noticed, shockingly, that female theatre students are still prone to cede to male classmates. But is change finally coming?...

The Guardian Blog - Claire Brennan 6/March/2012

Women on the Case: The New Winning Formula for Primetime TV Drama

Series like Call the Midwife and Scott & Bailey are attracting record audiences with a mix of strong female characters...

The Observer  - Maggie Brown 25/February/2012

Female Playwrights Still Face Sexism - it's Time We admitted it

Research shows that theatres are prejudiced against female playwrights. What can be done about it?...

TheGuardian  - Lyn Gardner 22/February/2012

Should our Society be Allowed to Celebrate its Historical Sexism?

Upon reading today that our glorious national treasure, Stephen Fry, is playing Malvolio in an all-male production of Twelfth Night at the Globe this summer, I faced an internal struggle....

Social Justice First  - Jenni Tomlin 18/February/2012

Angela Rippon Criticises Low Pay for Women on Television

Angela Rippon, the veteran news reader, has criticised the BBC over the salaries paid to female presenters after it emerged the co-hosts of one of corporation's most popular shows earn just one fortieth of their counterparts on Match of the Day...

The Telegraph - Mathew Holehouse 13/February/2012

Mark Thompson: Not Enough Older Women on the BBC

Mark Thompson, the BBC director-general, has warned that the corporation does not have enough older women on television...

The Telegraph - Murray Wardrop 9/February/2012


Women's Roles in the Arts

I really welcome Jo Caird’s article (The Stage, January 19, page 10) challenging the industry to find ways to help raise more women into top jobs in the arts.

In a conversation with Arts Council England’s Barbara Matthews during Equity’s Annual Representative Conference last May I bemoaned the fact that the casting opportunities for actresses in the subsidised sector were woeful in comparison with actors...

The Stage  - Jean Rogers 26/January/2012

Why Wait for Women's Position to Worsen?

As government budget cuts have a disproportionate effect on women and their career progression, Jo Caird asks what the industry must do to enable women to rise up to the top positions in the arts...

The Stage - Jo Caird 19/January/2012

 Why Women in Radio are Starting to Talk Back

From awards ceremonies to drive-time presenters, radio is dominated by men. But not for much longer, writes one of the team behind the launch of Sound Women, a pressure group devoted to giving women a louder voice...

The Observer -  Miranda Sawyer 30/October/2011

 Fair Play: Should Gender Equality in Theatre be Mandatory?

Playwright Julia Pascal wants more women in top arts jobs - and believes it's up to Arts Council England to lead the revolution...

The Guardian Blog - Lalayn Baluch 6/October/2011

Women in Theatre: Let's Get Rid of the Equality Myth

Women are under-represented in theatre – not for lack of interest, but because the industry is failing to provide long-term support...

The Guardian Blog - Krystina Nellis 18/July/2011


  • Favourites
    Add to favourites