Women’s Leadership

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American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) has partnered with the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) to conduct a study on the gender equity of leadership opportunities in the nonprofit American theater.

Over the past three years, WCW has collected information from a variety of sources, in a variety of forms. Each source informed the research findings and illuminated more details that were brought forth by other data sources, supplementing and complementing each other. WCW designed a multifaceted information gathering strategy that included interviews with a variety of stakeholders: existing Artistic Directors and Executive Directors, members of Boards of Trustees of theaters from the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) who had been involved in the leader selection process, search firm professionals who manage searches for top leadership positions, and people in the pipeline to leadership.

The study has already provoked a wealth of dialogue on the lack of parity in theater leadership. In April 2013, HowlRound Center for Theater Commons published an interview with A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff about the impetus behind the study, which generated a thought-provoking conversation on their online journal. The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society featured a lengthy discussion with Perloff and A.C.T. Executive Director Ellen Richard titled "Betting on Potential" in their Winter 2014 SDC Journal (See pages 27–30). In December 2015, the head researchers from WCW, Sumru Erkut and Ineke Ceder, also provided an in-depth update on HowlRound, including an analysis of the pipeline and action points for hiring committees. For additional information and recent updates on the research, check out the project overview on the WCW website


THANK YOU to the generous supporters of the Women’s Leadership Project!

Anonymous Foundation, Susan McGee Bailey, Michael Barker, Bryan Bellomo, Stephen Bennett, Barbara Bessey, Caroline Blanding, Laura Bonamo, Kelly Borgia, Jennifer Caleshu, Betty Anne Carlin, Suzanne Ciani, Lisa Cohen, Tegan Cohan, Amy Corcoran, Ariel Craft, Mary Margaret Dale, Suzanne Darley, Anne Dautun, Michelle Dissel, Emily Donn, Robert Donnalley, Sumru Erkut, Nate Farber, Rachel Flynn, Cynthia Fuhrman, Shelby Gans, Priscilla Geeslin, Diana Glazer, Barbara Grasseschi, Julia Griswold, Franes Grossman, Gruber Family Foundation, Debbie Harmon, Candace Hemphill, Lisa Honig, Katherine James, Laura Kepley, Paulette Kessler, Sheila Larsen, Margaret Lourenco, Steph Mazow, Joy Meads, Penny Metropulos, Dr. Mary Metz, Diane Miller, Mandi Moss, Elizabeth Munz, Carey Perloff, Posner-Wallace Foundation, Ellen Richard, Helen Rigby, Ian Simpson, John Sullivan, Joseph Tally, Jennifer Tattenbaum, Martha Taub, Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, Kristen van Ginhoven, Dixie Uffelman, and Monica West

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