A gender pay gap for L.A. artists (NYC too)

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As a follow-up to its report ‘Artists in the Workforce, 1990-2005,’ released in June, the National Endowment for the Arts is releasing today the results of a closer examination of the gender pay gap between men and women artists discovered by the original study.

Surprise -- women artists earn less.

In the earlier research, greater Los Angeles came out on top as the area with the most working artists, and California ranked as the top state by the same measure. But, in an interview Monday, Sunil Iyengar, the NEA’s director of research and analysis, and research analyst Bonnie Nichols, who is the primary author of the study, pointed out that the gender pay gap is wider for artists working in the competitive big-city arts capitals such as greater Los Angeles and New York City. ‘We see a more traditional pattern’ in the big cities, Nichols said.


Iyengar said that the original report revealed that states with the lowest populations -- often also the states with the lowest cost of living -- often had an unexpectedly high concentration of artists; those states also, he said, have a higher percentage of women artists.

‘We find that artists are remarkably entrepreneurial... and the fact of women working in these lower-population areas is a sign to me of how women, in a sense, are really at the forefront of that entrepreneurship, and bringing it to those communities,’ Iyengar said.

The gender pay gap increases with age and varies by occupation: Women performing artists, including dancers, actors and musicians, have more parity with their male peers than women in non-performing arts occupations, including designing and art direction. But then, performers are traditionally paid less than those in non-performing arts capacities, so there’s less cause for women performers to celebrate their parity.

Other findings:

--Women artists are as likely to be married as other women, but less likely to have children.

--The percentage of women photographers and architects has increased since 1990.

-- Architects rank as the most highly-paid category of artists in the survey.

Note: Culture Monster only used the photo of the man (Iyengar) instead of the woman (Nichols) because Nichols didn’t have one available.

-- Diane Haithman