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How sexist is the art world? Really frickin' sexist, actually

By Time Out Teen Takeover contributors

Guerrilla Girls courtesy the artists and the gallery

In the summer, we did some snooping and found that the vast majority of exhibitions in London this autumn were by male artists. For our teen takeover issue, we got the amazing Amina to go to the Guerrilla Girls show at the Whitechapel Gallery and then do her own bit of research, this time looking at the gender split in universities, compared to artists represented by major galleries. Her findings, to put it mildly, suck: 

Female students make up a 69.25 percent majority across the University of the Arts of London and Slade School of Art, the only respondents to our diversity enquiries.
During Frieze week, the busiest time in the art calendar, 67 percent of solo shows of modern and contemporary art were by men. Women had 33 percent.
Looking at ten of the leading galleries who exhibited at Frieze art fair, all of which have major London space, on average just 28 percent of their artists are female.
Around 54 percent of the galleries at Frieze London were founded or co-founded by women. 


Here's what Amina had to say about her findings: 

'I’d never been to an art exhibition before going to the Guerrilla Girls show. But what an amazing initiation. They’re famed for calling out the art world on its sexist practices, and for this show they sent questionnaires to hundreds of museums and galleries, quizzing them on the diversity of their representation. The extent of the inequality within the art world was shocking to me. Only two museums who responded have 40 percent or more women artists in their collection, this was out of nearly 400 art institutions in 29 countries across Europe. In 21 museums, women artists account for less than 20 percent of their collections.

It wasn’t all stats: there were uncompleted questionnaires from 282 institutions that had either failed to respond or declined to do so, all placed on the floor for you to stamp on. Not only are European art institutions failing on gender diversity, but their stats on racial diversity are abysmal (if it’s possible to get any worse). Only 14 of the close to 400 institutions that were interviewed have had more than 20 artists from outside of Europe/North America.

I came away inspired to do my own research by looking at the diversity in London art schools, comparing  that to exhibition stats compiled by The Art Newspaper. I contacted all the major London art universities and discovered that the situation within universities was very different. All the schools that responded were majority female. Unfortunately, four of the six art schools
I reached out to in London failed to either give me any gender stats or simply didn’t respond. That’s a pretty strong parallel with the responses that the Guerrilla Girls received. 

I discussed all of this with two friends of mine who are both women of colour and aspiring artists. They both said that these daunting statistics actually made them even more determined than ever to change the situation and make sure those barriers are broken. The work being done by the Guerrilla Girls is so necessary, if only to insure that these institutions don’t remain unchecked in providing equal opportunities for women and artists of colour.'

Meet the six teens doing amazing things in London

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