At small and midsize museums, with budgets under $15 million, women have essentially achieved parity

Reporter Hilarie M. Sheets with The New York Times has covered the research of Ann Marie Gan, an SMU student in the MA/MBA in Arts Management in the Cox School of Business and Meadows School of the Arts.

The article, Study Finds a Gender Gap at the Top Museums, published March 7.

Gan authored the study with Zannie Giraud Voss, director of the National Center for Arts Research, NCAR, at Southern Methodist University, and Christine Anagnos, executive director of the Association of Art Museum Directors, AAMD.

The research study was designed to understand the gender gap in art museum directorships and to explore potential factors to help AAMD member institutions advance toward greater gender equality.

Through a combination of quantitative analysis and interviews, the researchers examined the current and historical factors of the gender gap in art museum directorships.

The study, The Gender Gap in Art Museum Directorships, found that women hold fewer than 50 percent of directorships and that the average female director’s salary lags behind that of the average male director — with overall disparities driven by mostly the largest museums.

The Association of Art Museum Directors represents 236 art museum directors in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It promotes the vital role of art museums throughout North America and advances the profession by cultivating leadership and communicating standards of excellence in museum practice.

The Meadows School of the Arts is one of the foremost U.S. arts education institutions. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in advertising, art, art history, arts management and arts entrepreneurship, communication studies, creative computation, dance, film and media arts, journalism, music and theatre. It shares with the Cox School of Business at SMU the dual-degree MA/MBA in arts management. For more information, visit

Read the full story.


By Hilarie M. Sheets
The New York Times

Women run just a quarter of the biggest art museums in the United States and Canada, and they earn about a third less than their male counterparts, according to a report released on Friday by the Association of Art Museum Directors, a professional organization.

The group examined salary data on the 217 members it had last year through the prism of gender, for the first time. The report noted strides made by women at small and midsize museums, with budgets under $15 million, often university or contemporary-art institutions. Here, women have basically achieved parity, holding nearly half of the directorships and earning just about the same as men. But the gap is glaring at big institutions, those with budgets over $15 million: Only 24 percent are led by women, and they make 29 percent less than their male peers.

And just five of the 33 most prominent art museums — those with budgets greater than $20 million — have women at the helm.

“There is a difference if a woman is running one of these big museums,” said Elizabeth Easton, director of the Center for Curatorial Leadership, a training program in New York that has helped place nine women in directorships, but none at the country’s most influential museums. “Those directors are the most loud and authoritative voices. It sets the tone.” ….

…. Written in partnership with the National Center for Arts Research, the report, called “The Gender Gap in Museum Directorships,” explores the factors contributing to the gulf at the top and frames the findings within the debate provoked by Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” and Anne-Marie Slaughter’s 2012 article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” in The Atlantic.

Combining large and small institutions, the report found that an average of 42 percent of the association’s museum directors were women. That is certainly a different picture from 25 years ago, when only 14 percent of museums in the association were run by women, and a slight improvement from 38 percent five years ago.

On average, however, women who run art institutions earned 21 percent less than their male counterparts in 2013 — a bigger difference than the 18 percent overall median pay split between the sexes reported by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The report, which incorporated observations from interviews with six executive search recruiters, considered reasons for the gap, including the ratio of men to women on museum boards, which hire directors. While the recruiters agreed that boards were no longer all-male clubs — women now outnumber men, 59 to 30, on the board of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, for instance — gender ratios remain uneven. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the male voting members still outnumber female ones, 23 to 10. At the National Gallery, the board has seven men and two women. ….

Read the full story.

Follow on Twitter.

For more information,

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools. For more information see

SMU has an uplink facility located on campus for live TV, radio, or online interviews. To speak with an SMU expert or book an SMU guest in the studio, call SMU News & Communications at 214-768-7650.