Why Do Women in the Arts Make Less than Men?


bank by Paul and Kate Studio

It shocks me to read that college educated women earn only 68% of the salaries their equally qualified male peers earn.  Women in the Arts fare slightly better; we earn 75% of our male counterparts. But you have to ask, why, when we set our own prices in the arts, are men out- earning women by 25%?

This study shows that women’s expectations are significantly lower than men’s. The study also found that women were more likely to emphasize a balance between a career and a personal life and contributing to society, while men were focused on advancing their careers and building a sound financial base, both factors that contribute to bigger salaries.

Does this explain why men are only 4% of the sellers on Etsy, where less than 1,000 sellers make $30,000/year, according to Inc Magazine? I think that female sellers on Etsy are overly impressed by the high minded mission statements and the lure of social groups via forums and teams. If we made it a priority to advance our business and  build a sound financial base, we might make 100 times $785, which is what the average seller grosses in a year.

As a team of artisans, we are all advanced in our technical skills and creative visions. We all deserve to be earning at least $50,000/yr, which is the average income for an artist. If you are part time, that number should be $25,000. I would bet that many of us earn less.

Why is that? And honestly, would your husband, brother, boyfriend or father be satisfied with this?

editorial by Lee Wolfe


Dawn of LaTouchables said...

Ask and you shall recieve. I go by this theory, at least in my teaching career. I really believe that women undervalue their work, but if you consider that many households function because the female is the bread-winner, or a good part of the earning power, then it is downright unacceptable for women to be underpaid. Women are far too busy not wanting to make waves. They can only gain if they throw the pitches...and men will gain as well.

Genevieve said...

Just some thoughts...do women not make as much because (in general)they tend to less risk takers than men? Do we tend to make safer decisions?

Also do women who are not the main bread winner accept less because they are not responsible for paying all of the bills. I have to admit that starting out I really had a "well whatever I make will help a little" mentality. Thats changing over time for me.

GlitzGlitter said...

I think women are raised to not make too much of themselves, to not stand out and compete with men. "Don't always raise your hand in class with the answer, the boys won't like you." We are taught that being confident makes you a bitch while confident men are sought after. Is it any wonder we don't have the confidence to price our work properly?

WolfeWoman said...

In the US it takes 2 incomes for the average family to live as middle class. Even if women take off for early childrearing years, it shouldn't account for this much inequity. Something is missing in our aspirations- in our drive, maybe in our goals?

PoleStar Jewelry - Handcrafted said...

I've seen the results of some recent studies pointing to the idea that women create their own "glass ceilings" through expectations as far as career and personal life go. I wonder if women's art and craft is more valued as a natural role for a woman and more of a domestic production than men who are creating "art" I also wonder if you would find the same opinions from men and women in the culinary arts. Which is WAY off topic haha

LoopyBoopy said...

Very interesting and sad. I think it absolutely has to do with expectations and perceptions of value or worth. Obviously womens work being devalued is not only the case in the art world but because art on a wide scale is not percieved as valuable as say a IT persons work or product it compounds the problem of applying worth to womens contribution in art. Thanks for posting this Lee, very thought provoking!

EvesLittleEarthlings said...

Men seem to be bigger risk takers, investing in their businesses more. I have heard that men's businesses fail more than women's because they take on greater debt at the start. I was shocked that the average etsy income was so low.

Merritt Hyde said...

While it is my belief that we should not let our income define our self worth, we also should not settle for less than we deserve.

Since getting married and having a child, my time and focus is not what it used to be when I was single. Anyone with small children can relate to the balancing act of mother, wife and entrepreneur. Finding a balance can be a difficult journey.

In the past, I have only had a handful of women I can say were really supportive of me and my work. Could it be that women are holding themselves back by not rejoicing in the successes of other strong women?

Grab my hand, I am in and ready to stand. I have no doubt in my mind that we can do whatever we set our minds to no matter if we are male or female… and us women will not fall short. You can take that to the bank.

ira said...

This is happens everywhere, even in a high rank career. What more bother me, if a woman very tough, do everything to achieves what she want, everyone call her b*** but when a man done the same thing they call him ambitious! In term of low income on etsy, what can we do when most of the sellers are compete to get sales than to get a decent income!

gretchenmist . . . {belinda} said...

isn't it crazy!!
i was thinking that not as many men would risk the unreliable pay that goes with selling on etsy, so maybe they risk less?? or they see etsy as a
secondary option to the main income earning. . .
only guessing and going by the men i know!

steinschmuckdesign said...

It is hard for me with my English to talk here,
but I try :)
I think Etsy gives a very female image that dos not atract so many male to sell on etsy.
I also find it very hard on etsy to keep track with pricing in concurence with the hole World and yes, etsy sellers are in to sales and keep the pricing very low. If I would only sell in switzerland, I would make my prices much higher.

I know many really good business women in high standard earning a bomb of money. But not with Art. guess art is a though business to come to a good income and I have to say, I know Men artists that can`t make there income, they take a 2. Job to keep alive.

VerbenaPlace said...

Making a living in the arts is difficult for everyone. I don't know about other countries, but in the U.S., the arts are under valued. As to why women make less than men, I think the other comments have covered all the bases.

Thank you Lee for this interesting dialogue.

Paul and Kate Studio said...

Geat Discussion! When I was younger we were always taught that women were the victims of pay inequity, but increasingly studies are showing that women are also playing a role that perpetuates the inequity, “Men are eight times more likely than women to negotiate their starting salary and benefits” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2008/11/06/AR2008110602982.html). This discussion is great timing for me (Kate of Paul and Kate) as I am going to be graduating and entering a new career field soon. I guess I need to ask for more than I think I should and brush up on my negotiation skills!

Toni said...

This is so interesting. I believe there is a mindset we were taught as children that it's not as important for women to be successful. I'm wondering if the income gap for people in their 20's is less than that of people in their 40's or 60's. I'm hoping that the mindset is changing for the younger generations. Great article, very thought provoking. I loved all the comments, this is an important discussion. Thanks Lee!

Linda said...

I keep re-reading this article - and the comments - and I'm still don't know what to say. I've known it of course (women earning less then men...) - but I've never had to articulate my thoughts about it. I think I still have a lot more thinking to do (sorry).

Thanks for the blog post itself, the links and all your comments so far!

Linda /PaperPhine

Danielle Olivyea Christian said...

This is a great article and worth putting some thought into, especially for us women who are learning to market our work. It reminds me of having dinner with a couple ladies I know who are starting their own catering business. Their food and presentation are superb and has much potential, yet they are barely charging enough to cover their expenses, let alone all the friends they have helping out at their events. As I encouraged them to ask for what they deserve for their business, one of their husbands interrupted to correct me. "Hobby," he said repeatedly, "It's just a hobby." Neither of them had any rebuttal, much to my dismay.

I think women are influenced by the outdated opinions of other people in their lives from childhood through adulthood. Perhaps changes are on the horizon as younger generations that are growing up shed even more of the old stereotypes that have been stifling for women to this day.

Thanks so much for the article!

Danielle (Learn, Inspire, Create!)