[Selection from February 2020 report, published February 26, 2020 on the Women Count report series page.]

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The Women Count report series collects and publishes analyses of production credits to assess gender parity in theater hiring decisions. Since 2014 we have asked: whose plays are being done, who is directing them, and how many women are being hired for theatrical off-stage roles in New York’s theaters beyond Broadway? The goal of the report series is to change the conversation from anecdotes to action plans to support advocacy efforts on behalf of women playwrights, performers, and off-stage theater workers.

The universe of theater companies covered by the Women Count report series has been adjusted over the years to drop companies that have stopped producing, such as The Pearl, and to add others, such as Second Stage and Irish Rep. For this report we include LAByrinth once again, now that it has resumed producing after a several-year pause. Our database retains more theaters and companies than are included in any single report.

Women Count V covers 23 companies, five seasons (2014/15 through 2018/19) and 512 unique productions. The report summarizes information by season, with many tables providing company-by-company detail focusing on gender hiring breakdowns in multiple roles. Findings from the most recent five completed Off Broadway seasons reveal several areas in which women are dominant, some areas where parity is being approached, and many other areas where parity is far from the norm. This report does not analyze why such decisions hiring have been made. Rather, the reports in this series document the status of these hiring decisions in to inform the field as it considers ways to promote gender parity. Data are assembled from production playbills, season announcements, theatre web sites, published production reviews, on-line databases, and professional networks.

Selected findings from Women Count V include:

  • New plays among study theater companies from 2014/15 through 2018/19 range from 73% to 80% — or, three-quarters or of plays produced by study theater companies were world premieres or within five years of their original production.
  • Women playwrights represented in the study companies range from season lows of 29% in 2015/16 to a season high of 43% in 2018/19.
  • Women director credits by season range from a low of 40% in 2015/16 to a high of 55% 2018/19.
  • Set designer credits are less than one third women in each study season, ranging from a season low of 19% in 2015/16 to a season high of 32% in 2016/17.
  • Lighting designers among study productions are increasingly female, growing from 11% of lighting credits for women in 2014/15 to 39% of lighting credits for women in 2018/19.
  • Costume designers are primarily women, across all study seasons, ranging from 71% (in 2014/15 and 2016/17) to 75% design credits for women in 2018/19.
  • Sound designer credits are one-fifth women in the most recent five seasons, with wide variation among producing companies. Season rates for study theaters range from 12% women in 2016/17 to a season high of 25% women sound design credits in 2018/19.
  • Production stage managers, stage managers, and assistant stage managers are 70% women, more or less, in each study year, reflecting national trends.

In 2019, the Women Count project joined the Counting Together Initiative comprised of national and regional data projects convened by Todd London (of the Dramatists Guild and The Lillys project The Count) and Luis Castro (of the American Theatre Wing). The Counting Together Initiative’s evolving mission, inspired by ongoing evidence of systemic exclusion in the theater reported in multiple data projects, is to convene regularly the member projects to report findings collectively and to identify pathways to greater equity and inclusion through narratives in their multiple data projects.

[full report here]

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