The inclusivity/diversity thing – why are women so often excluded when we’re trying to be inclusive/diversive?

Convener(s): Stella Duffy

Participants: Sarah Dickenson, Sarah Sansom, Laura MacDougall, Rajni Shah, Amy Ip, Leyla Asadi, Emily Hodgson, Mandy F, Kate Maravan, Angela Clerkin


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

  • how/why has female/women become a box-tick in the list of diversity? Women are 52% of the population, not a minority and part of every minority that exists!
  • funding cuts affect women more, stats showing 72% of current cuts directly affect women
  • nobody checks which box you’ve ticked, it’s enough to be ‘diverse’
  • we live in a box-ticking culture
  • it’s not enough to put on seasons of plays where there are loads of writers of colour, if none or very few of those writers are women – if it’s about diversity, that diversity needs to include women writers
  • many lit depts. now needing/wanting companies to come to them with packaged shows, ie, other money, producing in place, this can favour men makers/writers if they have their own companies more than women – also means is harder for theatres to commission lone writers/makers, if the theatre is needing them to come with support
  • women need/can/should/will (?) support other women more
  • there has been a time of developing young women writers, many of them out there now, but no continuity to support them, and harder in a time of recession
  • men more likely to send in a first draft, to put up with rejections, to come back for more – women, conversely, more likely to send in a finished/nearly-finished article – while this has benefits, it can mean that a theatre that likes to be involved in development doesn’t feel there’s anything for them to do.
  • we’re so grateful about getting anything (esp as gay/queer/people of colour/disabled etc) that we don’t want to be seen to rock the boat by demanding even more
  • more honesty would help, so many of us are terrified of losing funding, losing support, that we take – gratefully – what we’re given and fail to fully question things we find upsetting/inappropriate. Honesty is a catalyst for change 

and so what can we do?

  • as with the Women on Top discussion, we need to be thinking more consciously, in all decision-making. (eg, if we’re programming a race/ethnicity-identified season – or merely trying to be more inclusive - to be sure we have women writers and makers in that season too)
  • it might need us speaking up, not being afraid or ashamed to call ourselves/our work feminist (as women AND as men)
  • stop apologizing
  • be upfront (on race/ethnicity/ablism concerns as well as sexism)