WBUR: 'There’s a big gender gap In key theater jobs — can Boston change the story?'

April 13, 2016
Summer L. Williams

Clark University alumna Summer L. Williams '01, M.A.Ed. '02 is quoted in a WBUR The ARTery story about whether the Boston theater scene is making progress against a trend identified in an in-progress Wellesley College study on gender gaps in key theater positions nationwide. In 1998, Williams, along with a group of Clark alums, co-founded Company One Theatre, located in Boston.

Here, an excerpt from WBUR's story:

"A look at the leadership of Boston theaters shows that these national trends are reflected here as well. But evidence suggests that local theater artists are making progress in some areas — and possibly indicating a new way forward. ... 'It’s not a new issue,' says Ineke Ceder, who co-authored the Wellesley study with Sumru Erkut, about the problems faced by women in theater. ...

"Their study, set to be fully unveiled at the Theatre Communications Group’s annual conference in June, examined the staff population at the 74 member theaters of the professional organization known as the League of Resident Theatres. Eighty percent of these theaters had male artistic directors. Among them, only five men of color held that position, while just one woman of color did so. Among executive directors — business chiefs at theater companies who are separate from the artistic leadership — 74 percent were men. There were no men or women of color in that role. ...

"Trends like these are of course not confined to the theater world. But the disproportionate presence of male voices at the tops of theater hierarchies is especially problematic when one looks around at who is sitting in the audience.

" 'I think we know that the folks who tend to drive ticket sales — and the folks who tend to push it from ‘I [heard about] this and I’m interested’ to ‘I’m going’ — tend to be women, who are driving the market,' says Summer L. Williams, one of the city’s rising directors and a co-founder of Company One Theatre."