About
Women represent more than half of the national population, yet the percentage of women in leadership roles within the field of opera is comparatively small. OPERA America is addressing these issues by convening a group of stakeholders (female and male) to explore and work actively to advance gender parity field-wide. This page provides general resources for the public and specific resources for OPERA America members.

Goals
OPERA America’s Women’s Opera Network works to:
  • Increase awareness of and discussion about diversity and gender parity in the field.
  • Create action plans to promote the advancement of talented women.
  • Become a source of support for emerging female professionals.

Join the Network
Be a part of the conversation. Any current member of OPERA America may join the Women’s Opera Network. Simply login to the website and request to be added to the listserv. Members are able to ask questions of the network, post headlines or relevant articles and request or become a mentor. Not an OPERA America member? Join today.


WON Mentorship Program
The Women’s Opera Network (WON) Mentorship Program is an ongoing initiative to promote the advancement of women leaders in the field of opera administration. This program will provide a unique opportunity for the most promising female professionals to be paired with administrative leaders who can help these protégés achieve their professional growth goals.

Three female professionals will be paired with established leaders in their areas of interest for a 12-month professional Mentorship Program beginning in January 2018. Protégés will be selected based on their demonstrated career arc and potential to make a significant contribution to the opera field. Mentors will be selected by OPERA America based on the career track and needs of the protégés. Mentors will share their knowledge and experience to guide protégés in a positive and nurturing environment, while identifying barriers and achievement gaps. Mentors and protégés will then establish and execute an action plan for professional growth. OPERA America will provide funding for mentors and protégés to travel to and attend Opera Conference 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri, from June 20–23, as well as support mentorship teams with a structured program and additional resources for in-person and remote mentoring sessions.

Application available online: September 18, 2017
Application deadline: October 18, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. EDT
Selected protégés notified: November 1, 2017

Guidelines: 2018 Women’s Opera Network Mentorship Program Guidelines (.PDF)
Apply: All applications must be submitted online.

Suggested Reading and Resources

Research and Data
Women make up a majority of the U.S. population (50.8 percent), earn almost 60 percent of all undergraduate and graduate degrees and earn 47 to 48 percent of all law and medical degrees. Although they hold almost 52 percent of all professional-level jobs, American women lag substantially behind men when it comes to their representation in leadership positions. They represent only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. They hold just 16.9 percent of Fortune 500 board seats and continue to earn only 71 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts in all leadership positions.

OPERA America did two preliminary research surveys about women in leadership roles within our membership as a representation of the field of opera: one specifically of general directors/CEOs and one for all leadership positions (e.g., divisional directors, artistic leaders). Both surveys span from 1990 to current 2015 data.

Click on any chart to open in a new window.

GENERAL DIRECTORS/CEOS
The results show that historically there remains a static, very low (less than 8 percent) ratio of female general directors at the companies with the largest budgets (Level 1).

The GD/CEO percentages at Level 2 and Level 3 companies have shown more variance but remain on average between 17 to 21 percent over the last 16 years.

The place where there has been the most significant increase in leadership gender parity is at the Level 4 companies (those with the smallest budgets), which are often organizations founded by women. The historic average is over 38 percent, and in 2015, 49 percent of Level 4 GD/CEOs are women.




COMPANY LEADERSHIP POSITIONS
This data is less encouraging, showing an actual decline in the number of women in leadership positions at all levels of opera companies over the last 16 years. While the general numbers seem to indicate a steady increase in female leaders, the ratios to male leaders in the same positions show a decrease of between 4 to 8 percent from 1990.

The graphs below show the statics and percentages, followed by links to the detailed findings from several other resources that present research on women in leadership roles in other sectors of the arts.




[Click any graph to open in a new window]


Women in Leadership Positions at
North American Opera Companies, 1990-2015
1990 1999 2008 2015
Leadership Positions General Directors Leadership Positions General Directors Leadership Positions General Directors Leadership Positions General Directors
Level 1 Male 55 (66%) 12 (92%) 83 (66%) 15 (100%) 99 (73%) 12 (92%) 122 (74%) 14 (93%)
Female 28 (34%) 1 (8%) 42 (34%) 0 37 (27%) 1 (8%) 43 (26%) 1 (7%)
Level 2 Male 60 (62%) 15 (79%) 75 (59%) 10 (67%) 127 (63%) 22 (91%) 136 (64%) 21 (78%)
Female 37 (38%) 4 (21%) 53 (41%) 5 (33%) 75 (37%) 2 (9%) 79 (36%) 6 (22%)
Level 3 Male 46 (56%) 15 (75%) 60 (56%) 15 (75%) 75 (68%) 15 (94%) 82 (63%) 20 (87%)
Female 37 (44%) 5 (25%) 49 (44%) 5 (25%) 35 (32%) 1 (6%) 48 (37%) 3 (13%)
Level 4 Male 89 (61%) 30 (69%) 123 (63%) 32 (59%) 151 (65%) 38 (67%) 192 (66%) 40 (51%)
Female 56 (39%) 13 (31%) 73 (37%) 23 (41%) 82 (35%) 19 (33%) 101 (34%) 38 (49%)
Canada Male 23 (54%) 6 (67) 47 (71%) 7 (59%) 56 (67%) 12 (71%) - -
Female 20 (46%) 3 (33%) 24 (29%) 4 (41%) 27 (33%) 5 (29%) - -

Support
Support the Women's Opera Network and the Mentorship Program by contributing to Backstage Brunch: Women in Opera.


Steering Committee
Members

Kathryn Smith, Chair
General Director Madison Opera
Board of Directors OPERA America

Ana De Archuleta, Co-chair
President and CEO ADA Artist Management

Laura Lee Everett, Co-chair
Director of Artistic Services OPERA America

Jeri Sedlar, Co-chair
Trustee National Board of Overseers,
The National Opera Center


Diane Rhodes Bergman
Vice President, Marketing and Communications LA Opera

Jenny Daggett
Director of Finance & HR Opera Omaha

Cori Ellison
Dramaturg, Teacher
Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Juilliard, ALT, NYU

Nicole Ambos Freber
Director of Development Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Carleen Graham
Director, HGOco Houston Grand Opera

Jane Hill
Consultant artSMART

Miah Im
Head of Music Staff LA Opera

Jessica Jahn
Designer

Laura Kaminsky
Composer, Administrator

Cory Lippiello
Deputy Director of Artistic Planning Lyric Opera of Chicago

Kristine McIntyre
Stage Director

Nicole Paiement
Artistic Director, Conductor, Founder Opera Parallèle

Karen Quisenberry
Director of Production Minnesota Opera

Deborah Sandler
General Director/CEO Lyric Opera of Kansas City

Talise Trevigne
Soprano



Advisors

Francesca Zambello
Artistic Director Washington National Opera
Artistic & General Director Glimmerglass Festival



OPERA America Staff

Brenda Huggins
Learning and Leadership Manager

Kurt Howard
Director of Programs and Services

Marc A. Scorca
President/CEO

Members of the Steering Committee and Advisors are available to be a resource for advice to rising female leaders in the field. Please contact them through the email addresses provided above.

News
American Theatre, tcg    Friday, November 17, 2017
Not in Our Theatre: The Fight Against Sexual Harassment
New York Times    Friday, November 17, 2017
How the Myth of the Artistic Genius Excuses the Abuse of Women
Washington Post    Friday, November 17, 2017
Female Conductors to Watch
New York Times    Friday, November 17, 2017
When You Are Replaceable and He Will Never Be
Huff Post News    Friday, November 17, 2017
Classic(al) Sexual Harassment
Lime Light Magazine (AU)    Thursday, November 9, 2017
Carolyn Watson on the state of play for women conductors
Kaufman Music Center    Wednesday, September 13, 2017
LUNA LAB, a mentorship program for self-identified female composers ages 13-19
Broadway World    Tuesday, July 18, 2017
New Documentary Following Talented Women of Broadway Now Filming
The New York Times    Tuesday, July 18, 2017
When Women Won’t Accept Theatrical Manspreading
The Times of India    Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Adopted girl returns to Maharashtra as Danish conductor
OPERA America    Monday, June 12, 2017
Women Take Opera's Center Stage


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