Statistics on Women Playwrights – not very encouraging

Statistics on women playwrights in the US, reported by Derora Noo.

From 1660-1680, women playwrights accounted for only 7% of the plays produced in London.
Donkin, Ellen. Getting Into the Act: Women Playwrights in London, 1776-1829. London: Routledge. Page 1

According to recent Dramatists Guild statistics, in 2007 & 2008, only “9-11%” of all productions in Regional, League of Resident Theatres [L.O.R.T.], and Off-Broadway theatres were written by women.- Garrison, Gary. “Numbers.” Dramatists Guild of America E-Flash. Newsletter to Members. 26 Feb. 2009.

Playwright Theresa Rebeck, in her 9 September 2008 essay for The Guardian entitled “Broadway’s Glass Ceiling,” states that for the 2008/2009 New York theater season, plays penned by women constituted only 12.6% of the shows in New York venues. – Rebeck, Theresa. “Broadway’s Glass Ceiling.” 9 Sept. 2008. The Guardian.

“One hundred years ago, in 1908-1909, according to Internet Broadway Database, nearly 13% of new straight plays on New York stages were by women.” – Jordan, Julia. “Women Playwrights: Equality in Production.” The Dramatist. Jan/Feb 2009. Vol. II, no. 3. 36-37.

Rebeck cites the 1908-1909 data specifically at 12.8%. That means in the 2008-2009 season in New York, there were .2% fewer female-penned shows than in 1908, at the beginning of the 20th century.

This is even more surprising considering other related statistics, such as in 2000, the U.S. Census reported that females comprised 51% of the U.S. population.- Spraggins, Reneé. “We the People: Women and Men in the United States.” Census 2000 Special Reports.” January 2005.

And of course, it is worth noting that there are now thousands of female playwrights in the United States. For example, women constitute 40% of the Dramatists Guild today; 2,230 females are members. – Garrison, Gary. “Numbers.” Dramatists Guild of America E-Flash. Newsletter to Members. 26 Feb. 2009.

This 2,230 figure under-represents the actual number of female playwrights living in the United States, as many female playwrights cannot afford to be current members of the DG, and/or have not yet been identified. So a conservative guess is there are 5,000 female playwrights or MORE in the United States right now.

*bangs head on desk*


1 Comment

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One response to “Statistics on Women Playwrights – not very encouraging

  1. 17percent

    I agree, it’s appalling. The situation in the UK is also pretty dire. In order to start to try and counteract this – I’m setting up a forum to promote and encourage female playwrights, initially to be UK based, read about it on

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