Why does gender parity in the arts matter?

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Friends, Panel Discussion, Research Forum, Women and Arts Leadership

Why does gender parity in the arts matter?

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

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  • Thursday 12 October 2017
    PLEASE NOTE: This Date Has Passed
    6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

    registration from 6.00pm

    Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN


  • Deborah Swallow  - Märit Rausing Director of The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Iwona Blazwick  - Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery
  • Sara Wajid  - Head of Interpretation at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; Founder of Museum Detox
  • Hannah Philp  - Director of Marketing, Witan Investment Trust plc; Founder of East London Fawcett Society
  • Ed Bampfylde - Partner and Head of Arts & Culture Practice at the executive search firm Saxon Bampfylde

Organised by

  • Sonnet Stanfill - Acting Senior Curator, V&A and Chair, Courtauld Association Committee
  • Alixe Bovey - Head of Research, The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Gabriela Cala-Lesina - Special Partnerships Manager, Whitechapel Gallery
  • Ingrid Guiot - Events Producer, The Courtauld Institute of Art

Why does gender parity in the arts matter?’ is the first of a new series of events exploring women and leadership in the visual arts.


The art world is not gender balanced. 70% of art museum curators are women, yet museum leadership retains a boy’s club reputation. None of the top three most visited art museums (The Louvre, The British Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art) have had a female director, and only four of the directors of the top twenty-five museums are women. Because museums frame the world for us, sometimes literally, museum leadership determines whose art and what kinds of culture count.

The Courtauld Institute of Art educates the directors and curators of many cultural institutions world-wide. To galvanise its 70% female alumnae and all those committed to gender parity in the arts, in 2017-18 the Courtauld will host a series of events featuring influential leaders addressing central questions of gender balance in arts leadership.

On Thursday 12 October, our first event will address the question of why gender parity in arts leadership matters. Though 70% of the Courtauld Institute of Art’s own graduates and roughly 70% of art museum curators are women, cultural leadership, including directors and board chairs, remains predominantly male. The panel will debate why this is the case and why the sector needs to aim for gender parity and greater diversity.

The debate will be followed in a drinks reception in the foyer.

You can contribute to the debate by sending your questions via Twitter to @courtauldres

Forthcoming events:

Thursday 18 January 2018 (18.30 – 20.00): How to achieve it?

A panel discussion exploring strategies for achieving greater gender parity in the cultural sector

Thursday 19 April 2018 (18.30 – 20.00): Perspectives on leadership

A panel discussion informed by personal journeys to positions of leadership


This event series is part of Open Courtauld (#opencourtauld). 

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