Betty Bender:
Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile ... initially scared me to death.

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... that in 2002, women wrote only 16% of plays produced in American theaters?

In 1767, women wrote 40% of plays produced on the London stage. In 2002, women wrote only 16% of plays produced in American theatres.

The following is an excerpt from:
New York State Council On The Arts Theatre Program
Report On The Status of Women:
Limited Engagement? Brief Executive Summary - January 2002


  • The influence of a protagonist's gender is often times a major factor in final selection.
  • Men and women tend to identify with men.
  • Both genders take a male perspective as the norm or general perspective.
  • The gender of an author tends to provoke assumptions and generalizations about the nature and universality of the work, with plays written by men viewed as more accepted.
  • It is assumed that plays in the male perspective are more commercially viable.
  • Decreased funding to theatres and increased ticket costs place demand to fill seats.


  • Establishing networks for women, not only in theatre but across professional fields.
  • Creating historical awareness of past female theatre artists, many of whom were pivotal to theatre's history.
  • Collecting, studying, and producing plays by female playwrights. (Many found great success at the turn of the last century but are now all but forgotten.)

Without historic precedent, without role models, mentors, consistent statistical data, and often not realizing they are operating at a disadvantage until late in their careers, women are constantly re-introducing themselves to the field. As perpetual newcomers, they are constantly elbowing for their place at the table and defending themselves against charges of inferiority. And they are caught in a paradox; they do not want to be counted as "women artists" but simply as "artists," yet when gender is not counted, it continues to count against women. What is not perceived can't be challenged or altered.

A complete summary of this study can be found at:


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