Women in art: It’s not what you think

Much has been written recently about the status and position of women in contemporary art. Many writers bemoan the fact that women artists are grossly underrepresented in the profession, that they have fewer exhibitions, and command far lower prices than male artists.

According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C., art work by female artists comprise no more than 5 percent of major permanent collections in the U.S. and Europe, and of approximately 600 major exhibitions by 70 American art institutions from 2007-2013 only about one in four were devoted to women. (https://nmwa.org/advocate/get-facts)
The thing is — critics and curators pay far too little attention to female artists, especially those who are young and up-and-coming. And the second aspect is that wealthy collectors and patrons don’t put too much faith in the long-term prospects, both aesthetically and financially, of female artists.

In a nutshell, like the 20th century and every century before then, the 21st century is still very much dominated by men and will be for the near future. I’m sure women living in the Stone Age had more freedom of expression then women in the 21st century!

Ok, maybe you are saying, “tell me something that I don’t know.’’ And I will. This discrimination and prejudice also comes in other more subtle and destructive forms. Let me share my personal experiences, which show a side to the gender issue not discussed beyond the usual complaints and gripes. Let’s take a deeper look at the obstacles that women face in the art world.
My personal frustration is about having to pretend to be someone else in order to be taken seriously. I once did an experiment — I decked myself out to look attractive and perhaps even sexy, and the result was that I wasn’t considered to be a talented artist! However, every time I deliberately dressed poorly and tried to look my worse, then I was taken seriously!
Why do we women have to pretend and conform to a certain mold and stereotype? In our modern day and age when people are told to find their own identity and be original, it’s clear that each social group (in this case, the art world) tacitly enforces its own standards, rules of behavior, and even dress code for women.

Why can’t we women be taken seriously and treated professionally for our individuality? Or are we doomed to always have to conform to someone’s set of rules?
I’m tired of having to fit in and constantly adjust to what I’m expected to be, or expected to look like or behave in a particular way. I work with many women and try to encourage their individuality and talents. This is when you get the best out of them (in fact this is when you get the best out of any person a man or a woman). When will we begin looking past a person’s exterior, and stop suppressing individuality?