It seems to have become a custom that at the end of each semester I am confronted with my position as a woman in a largely male dominated field. Though my classes are fairly balanced, as critiques come up our overwhelmingly male jurors remind me that beyond graduation, a shocking 17% of all registered working architects are women.
Being a woman in STEM isn’t a new concept, and neither is being a woman in a male dominated field at all. Even in professions and hobbies we might imagine are equal, this is hardly the case. Within the realm of art, we view art history through yet another predominantly male lens. However, in these scary tides of testosterone there are some nice pockets here and there of solidarity. One of those in particular is the Guerrilla Girls.
The Guerrilla Girls are a group of anonymous women who protect their identity with these fantastic gorilla masks, and have really made a mark on art history with their mission. They “…wear gorilla masks in public and use facts, humor and outrageous visuals to expose gender and ethnic bias as well as corruption in politics, art, film, and pop culture”, in their terms. Starting in the late eighties, they have continued to make their mark to this day on the standards of art history and the quantity of art created by women and women of color in prestigious museums such as The Met, The Tate Museum, and countless others to bring recognition for women into the world of art.
One of their most famous prints highlights the absolute insane standard of the ratio of women artists to female nudes within the Met. Even though it was made in 1989, their message still reigns true today. In the past 30 odd years, not enough change has been made. I believe that we’ve moved from 5% to a whopping 11%, and only about 3% of that is women of color.
Another of their posters really highlights the change…or lack thereof. They update one of their posters from 1985, and compare it to the stats of 2015. The numbers go up, but just barely. It’s actually laughable. Or, so sad that you can’t help but laugh.
They even reach out to the world of film, music, and a variety of other artistic platforms. (One of my favorites is their billboard about the design of the Oscar from 2000, gets me every time)
Their agenda strays far past just the world of art, and I highly HIGHLY recommend going through their website, but for the sake of an art history blog I will keep my writing just to art (for now)
And of course, as a final note, please support the female artists and women in those male dominated fields this holiday season! And every season! Support is the first step to change, and we need change more now than ever.
To the aforementioned women reading this, please don’t ever stop. Pin up a Guerrilla Girls poster at your desk, kick butt, take names. I know you all can! In case you need any ideas, this is the one I have hung up at mine, right in the center of all my other art history prints that I have there. (Which I will admit, needs more women artists. I’ll be getting on that right now—you won’t see me having worse numbers than The Met)