Gender Bias in the Arts

Gender bias has had huge implications for women in the arts. 

Women have been artists since prehistory – the handprints on cave-paintings are often female – and everything from pottery to weaving to painting, from sewing to leather work to jewelry, from cooking to music to dance, can be attributed to the hand of woman. 

And through every era since, despite Society’s male oriented rules barring them from (1) training, (2) joining the artistic academies or guilds, (3) practicing / performing their craft, (4) putting their name on their work, or (5) displaying or selling it, great numbers of women have left a remarkable artistic legacy which is largely unremarked by scholars of art. Even today, women are dramatically underrepresented and undervalued in museums and galleries:

Learn more about gender equality in the arts, with facts and figures 

We’ve all heard of the famous men in art history from Shakespeare to Mozart, from Picasso to Baryshnikov, but now is the time to recover from that same history the multitude of brilliant women who contributed so much to our global artistic legacy, but who were, and still are, denied the recognition and fame they so properly deserved.  

Enlarge your insight into this astonishing, biased, and deliberate cultural disregard for female talent with this small sampling of Wiki articles and lists:

Note: These lists are incomplete – they do not include all of the significant female artists of our era, they generally do not include female artists before 1800, nor do they tend to include non-traditional art forms, usually arbitrarily categorized as “crafts” or “women’s works”.

All the following lists and articles below are incomplete and need expanding:

After examining the works of even a few of the women listed above, we hope you will join us in agreeing that the failure to recognize female aptitude lies not in a lack of talent, but in systematic discrimination.  

We hope you will also join us in saying it is time we stopped hearing that ignorant, sexist, and idiotic question, “Where are all the great women artists?” 

Anyone with even a smattering of an understanding of history and society’s biases, knows we should be asking, “Why aren’t all of history’s great women artists recognized, admired, celebrated, and reported on?”

Here are several key works to begin your exploration of women in the arts:

Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader 
Linda Nochlin is one of the most accessible, provocative, and innovative art historians of our time. In 1971 she published her essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” – a  dramatic feminist call-to-arms that called traditional art historical practices into question and led to a major revision of the discipline … Women Artists brings together twenty-nine essential essays from throughout Nochlin’s career, making this the definitive anthology of her writing about women in art. 
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Forgotten Women: The Artists 
Forgotten Women is a new series of books that uncover the lost herstories of influential women who have refused over hundreds of years to accept the hand they’ve been dealt and, as a result, have formed, shaped and changed the course of our futures. From leaders and scientists to artists and writers, the fascinating stories of these women that time forgot are now celebrated, putting their achievements firmly back on the map.
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Great Women Artists
Five centuries of fascinating female creativity presented in more than 400 compelling artworks and one comprehensive volume.

The most extensive fully illustrated book of women artists ever published, Great Women Artists reflects an era where art made by women is more prominent than ever. In museums, galleries, and the art market, previously overlooked female artists, past and present, are now gaining recognition and value. Featuring more than 400 artists from more than 50 countries and spanning 500 years of creativity, each artist is represented here by a key artwork and short text. This essential volume reveals a parallel yet equally engaging history of art for an age that champions a greater diversity of voices.
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