Irish theatre’s gender disparity problem

According to a new report, Irish theatres that receive higher levels of public funding have lower levels of female representation in their productions. Commissioned by activist group Waking The Feminists, the report recorded 9,205 roles in Arts Council-funded Irish theatres across 1,155 productions from 2006-2015.

Ireland’s two best-funded theatres –Abbey Theatre and Gate Theatre – employed women in only 33% and 32% of roles respectively.

“It is evident from the statistical analysis carried out in this study that Irish theatre has a significant gender problem,” states the executive summary. “There is a general pattern of an inverse relationship between levels of funding and female representation. In other words, the higher the funding an organisation receives, the lower the female presence in these roles.”

The study recorded data for seven job roles: director, author, cast, set designer, lighting designer, sound designer and costume designer. In six of the seven categories females were in a minority. Only 37% of directors were women and a paltry 28% of authors.

In its conclusion, the report recommends that “These percentage points are made into concrete targets, backed by practical plans of action, so that the industry can ensure that the future will be different for women in Irish theatre.”

You can read the full report online at