While working as the master electrician loading in a main-stage proscenium show at the Wimberly, I encountered a fair amount of sexism. Electricians working under me felt the need to question my prep work, math, and authority in ways I’ve never seen them question my male counter parts. I had to deal with an unreasonable amount of attitude aimed at my mistakes. Let me remind you, I’m a student. I’m going to make mistakes, and I am going to own up to them, its a part of the learning process. Having worked with the lighting department for nearly three years, I know most of this was because I am a woman, whether conscious or not. Sexism in the department is real, and sexism within the field of technical theatre is very real.
Within the undergraduate Design & Production program in the College of Fine Arts at Boston University, there is approximately a 4:1 female to male ratio. That’s not surprising considering the University wide ratio is 6:1 female to male students. What should be surprising is the lack of gender diversity in the “real world”. Walk into any union house, anywhere in the country, and you’ll find the vast majority of stagehands are male. A study done by HowlRound in 2015 showed that nearly three-quarters technical positions in LORT theatre companies were held by a male (71.8%). When broken down by area (scenic, lighting, sound, etc.), the only one where males did not hold the majority of positions, technical or design, was costumes. This isn’t because women aren’t interested in becoming carpenters, or a sound designer, or involved in any other facet of technical theatre, it’s because we get pushed out. We don’t get hired because people don’t believe we can do the work, or because they trust a man more than a woman. We need to be taking steps to encourage gender diversity in technical theatre. We need to believe in woman and non-binary people, just as much as we do with women. It will only make our field stronger.