Analysing Women’s Place in the Theatre
Industry of London (1995 – 2010)

Which Positions do They Occupy the Most?

Relevance of the question

At the beginning of each magazine published by Theatre Record, an index listing every single person who has participated directly or indirectly in the staging of one play is given. A long list of surnames and first names accompanied by the function that these people have held (directors, actors, playwrights, lighting designers…) is made available to readers. Working on these indexes enabled us to better understand the kind of positions women occupy in the London theatre industry. Where are they the most present and what do the results tell us about their place in theatre?

Which Technical Tools did we Use?

In order to answer this question, the first step consisted in structuring and in cleaning these indexes by using regular expressions with Python. After harmonising these lists, we transformed them into dataframes, that is to say into tables. We then applied the “Gender.Detector” package which contains thousands of first names that have been pre-referenced as either “feminine” or “masculine”. The last step consisted in making percentages to obtain an overview of the proportion of men and women in the different job positions.



These results shed light on the under-representation of women in the theatre industry of London between 1995 and 2010. Regarding the percentage of female playwrights, we can observe a slight increase within 15 years (+ 4% between 1995 and 2010). Female directors are slightly more present than female playwrights but their percentage remains significantly lower compared to their male counterpart. In 1995, they represented 28% of the whole profession while there were 65% of men. Twenty years later, the figures show a similar ratio: 28% of women are directors, against 66% for men.

The disparities tend to disappear when we consider the proportion of actors and actresses. Although women are still in minority, they still represent 36% of this profession. It is in the dance field that the male/female ratio finds almost a form of equality. Although the number of women has been decreasing since 1995 and that of men has been increasing, the figures nevertheless show that this job occupation is characterised by a certain form of parity between the two sexes.

Finally, it is the profession of the costume designer which reverses the power relationship between men and women. The percentages are almost identical to those representative of the profession of director, except that in this case, the power dynamic is reversed. In 2020, while 64% of costume designers are female, only 24% are male). It is thus in a field generally associated with the domestic sphere that women can find their place in the 21st century.

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