For a while, I have been wondering why the art conferences at which I speak are filled with women. Why most of the commenters on this blog are women. Why Jack’s class at RISD is predominantly female. Why the students of Sketchbook Skool are about 85% women.
Where are the men?
Certainly men seem to like to make art as much as women do. Half of the SBS fakulty are male. The museums and galleries I visit are full of work by men. In fact, women have long complained that the art world seems biased against them.
So what is it about art education that seems more interesting to women than men?I searched the web for answers. There weren’t many categorical ones but here are some of the clues I picked up.
In 2007, the NY Times had an article about why adult classes of all sorts seem much more popular with women. Tennis classes. Writer’s classes. Triathlon classes. All were 65-95% women. Here’s what a man who teaches wine tasting said of his students: “It’s argued that women are better tasters of wine than men. A higher percentage of women have more taste-bud receptors.” So maybe they are getting more out of the class. But, echoing others who lead classes, he added: “It may also come down to the fact that men think they know more about wine anyway, so they don’t need to learn more about it.”
In other words, men know more. Or think they do. No need to take classes. Why admit you are ignorant?
Is it that simple? Men go to golf pros. They read business books. They take coding classes. Maybe art classes teach skills that don’t seem concrete or finite enough for men? Do men just need more goal- rather than process- oriented activities?
I have also been following a heated debate on Reddit (where all debates are heated) about why there are so many more successful male artists than females. Here’s are some highlights.
One theory is about marketing, that male artists are more into promoting themselves than women.
“In my experience the successful artists are the ones who concentrate their time about half on the art and half on the selling of the art. …That is selling paintings, building relationships with patrons of the arts, raising money for their dance/theater/etc. company, writing grant proposals to non-profits etc.
“…perhaps men are more drawn to the concrete and the rational and less to the expressive and emotional. This keeps them away from art statistically but those who do get into art spend more of their time with the rational part of marketing art and less with the expressive side or art. This may actually be the more important part of becoming a successful artist.”
And self-promotion is not encouraged in women:
“When you look at hugely successful female artists they are generally the ones that market themselves well and are obsessive about selling their art. However, women who promote themselves and their work intensely are often seen as ruthless social climbers.”
Another argument: Art is less practical so women can afford to indulge in it more than men.
“At the university level, women are more free to pursue educational interests without as much criticism. When a guy takes an art class, he’s usually expected to come up with a practical application of it as a justification. Anytime a show wants to make a joke about a father worried about a grown son’s directionlessness, they’ll say the son is studying some art/humanities degree, like dance, or theater, or English.
(But as you can see in the chart above, there are loads of men in ‘impractical’ fields like philosophy and classics too).
“when a woman cooks, it is her duty. When a man cooks, he is an artist.”
Or is it just that women aren’t valued for what they do — and so neither is their art? In fact, as Richard Florida’s research on creative professionals has shown, women earn about 40% less than men do in creative class employment. I’m not sure if the situation is as imbalanced in all skill professions.
A poster on Reddit says: “Women’s work isn’t valued on a ‘profound’ level in the same way that men’s is. The perfect example is cooking. Cooking is seen as a woman’s task, but the vast majority of celebrity chefs are men. Of the female celebrity chefs, how many are really valued for their ‘greatness’ vs. how many are famous for showing you quick and convenient ways to cook at home? In other words, how often do we talk about women’s Michelin stars?”
“….I always think of the quote, “when a woman cooks, it is her duty. When a man cooks, he is an artist.”
Another says that women’s art tends to be ghettoized:
“I don’t know enough about the art or cooking world to judge whether it’s because the stuff that women are creating doesn’t push creative limits enough to warrant that kind of recognition. What I do know is that in the fiction and poetry industries, women are expected to write in certain niches. Maybe a small portion of their work will transcend those niches, but they are rarely able to make an entire career out of writing the same stuff men write about, even if the quality is comparable. ….”
What do you think is behind the disparity? Why don’t men take art classes? And why, despite all those workshops and classes and conferences, aren’t women equally represented in the contemporary art world?
Update: it’s not just America.
51 thoughts on “Why men don’t take art classes.”
Great article Danny – I have always pondered this question myself. I have taken so many art workshops and online classes and am almost the only man in the class. It has always seemed odd to me.
Oh boy – I could go on for ever on this one – but I’ll spare you. As a group therapist – same thing! At parent-teacher nights – same thing. Then you see government clutches – House of Representatives, House of Commons (Canada) etc… a sea of suits. Sometimes I feel like the majority of men are churning out concrete (ideas, bridges, laws) while the majority of women are trying to connect (to children, to their souls, to the sea of suits). Just so you know – my son is starting his first SBS this Friday – that’s what I gave him for his birthday. – he’s 46. He’s been a corporate drone for many years and is now exploring other sides of himself. It is easier to rebel when you are already out on the skinny branches – like women, like people of colour. White men have so much to lose if they dare to be creative without a solid business plan behind them. So it goes. Thanks for daring to broach this conversation. As a second-wave feminist I sometimes get tired but fellas like you and my sons give me hope.
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Hm…first of all, it’s great you’re directing everyone’s attention to this issue. It is very frustrating to see these disparities being so ingrained – the cooking example made this particularly clear (woman-duty, man-art). I truly believe that the issue your have raised has to do with our gender conceptions. Here in Europe no-one likes to talk about gender much at the moment but it really is a helpful concept. Gender is about the traits we ascribe to peeps based on their biological sex. Quite in line with the gender stereotypes, girls are brought up to be patient, quite, pleasant to others, empathetic and emotional, whilst boys are encouraged to be rough, loud, impulsive, strategic and so on. Behaviour which makes a man seem clever would make a woman look conniving. In art, I think, women’s expressive and emotional side is thought to prevail whilst men, not being emotional but rational, are from the get-go perceived in a very different light, and I haven’t even said anything about trying to sell art. We do our own bit every day to uphold this gender order, sadly. Though I believe that the daily painting and sketching movement is contributing to bringing it down because the motive for being creative there is less about emotional expression.
I think you NAILED the basic reason… Men think they know it all, and don’t NEED a class.
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Danny, there are many many times I have thought of signing my name to my work with a male name. A
perfect example is a well known case portrayed in the movie “Big Eyes.” A woman did the work but was ignored until it was marketed under her husband’s name. My husband jokes that he wants to fake my death so my paintings have value. I disappear when I hang my paintings at plein air events….I sell more when he stands there or when my friend, who owns a frame shop, markets my work.
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Some men see all the women in the class and are afraid they’ll get girl cooties.
Maybe men prefer concrete and measurable reults as in math or engineering fields. JUdging an artwork is very subjective although we do not study art to be judged but to create and express.Also a fear of “failing” can bruise the ego. Women are more likely to share and verbalize their thoughts in general as I have observed this to be true in sketchbook klasses.
Great article, Danny! I think it has to do with how a man’s brain is wired. Same deal with church attendance. Talking about spiritual things does not appeal to a man’s sense of adventure, being a hero, or doing something physical.
I could write for a very long time about this but I think you covered many of the bases already. My own experience is that men are told from a very young age that what they do is very good and they generally have a huge amount of self-belief (at least that’s how it is in the UK), while women are always told what more they need to do in order to succeed. I’ve never yet met a British man who reads the instruction booklet that comes with any electrical item before trying to use it – and most of the ones I know will spend hours trying to figure out how something works when it would take just 5 or 10 minutes reading the instructions to know exactly how to do it. It really is a man’s world.
I’ve tried to persuade my brother and dad, both of whom call themselves artists while I wouldn’t describe myself in that way (they sell art), to do SBS courses. They say they will sign up when they have time (they do have time) and one of the reasons they’ve asked about skool is becuase they are amazed at the progress in my art since I joined, but I doubt that they’ll take a course. Why? I think it’s the reason Jan’s identified above – they’re actually scared to be creative. They’ve both been making art for years but their style hasn’t changed at all, they don’t draw from life (ever), and when I look at their art I realise how grateful I am for the constant challenge of SBS. You can’t sell that to people who don’t want it.
Women want to learn. Women see life differently to men, especially I think when we have children and have to make difficult choices and see the consequences of those choices. I certainly found that my priorities in life changed dramatically as my child grew up and I realised that those feminist dreams of having it all that I’d nurtured in my teens and early 20s were just that, dreams – but actually, although life was tougher that I’d hoped it was also in many ways better. I spent a long time in education the first time around becuase I loved learning – but I never imagined that art classes would become embedded in my life in the way they have now.
Wow, this is nearly as long as your blogpost so i’m going to stop…
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are all the women in your groups working?. In the groups classes, etc I attend, all art related, the attendees who are not retirees are women supported by husbands and generally their child rearing era is over or reduced. You might find the same results in church attendance. Counting and percentage tells us just that. Like my observations it is just that an observation.
I am retired and finally have more time for art. I have observed at art fairs, exhibits etc., younger women who do wonderful art and produce a lot of it. I was wondering how they do it, then “duh” their kids are grown and they are supported by their husbands. Lucky them. However, I am happy without one, husband that is. Now I have time, and thanks to SBS I am using it. I also realize I don’t need to “produce” because I am not interested in earning money selling my art. It would be exhausting for me. The production of pieces to sell and the managing to find places to sell, book-keeping (eek), etc. I would hate it.
I notice there is more equality in music among men and women as majors than art – might there be a clue there? Perhaps it’s because there’s an instrument involved whereas with art the instruments are more like knives and brushes, tools.
Look at the statistics on working musician women. I think it’s like 10 percent.
Good point. Actually it’s 21.6 but still shockingly low. https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/news/women-artists-music-study-2021-1138094/amp/
Men In General:
Motivated by vision and purpose
Cognitive and logical
Visionaries and leaders
Love challenge and adventure
I can’t speak for “women” but as a woman I can tell you I take art classes for the fun of making art in new ways and improving the old. My son and son-in-law are bored to death when I show them even one thing I have created but enthralled with a canoe race, a basketball game, a competition of any kind. I am left bored to death having to do something with my hands until the whatever is over with. Physical action verses internal action is my theory – basic gene differences. Many women cross over and enjoy physical action but after running after kids, shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning, walking the dog, etc., many more would rather sit and enjoy mental action and loose themselves for a quick get away while enjoying a fantasy in art land. I guess I just did speak for other women – oh well.
I agree with the previous comments, but there is also the social aspect of taking classes. This is a big motivator for my friends and me. I notice women in the majority at many events, music, entertainment and art. If my husband is any indication, his amusements are more solitary or else community or sports oriented.
Wow, Danny, I love this open forum! My husband and I grew up together and are very close. I think I know how his mind works enough to comment. He was and still is the smartest person I know. As a college prep thing, he took a personality test. The results were that he’d make a very good husband (yes) and father (yes times two), but that he also exhibited homosexual tendencies because he was sensitive. What the hell is that? It was the same sentence. How was that supposed to make him feel? Our son graduated college with a triple degree: math, English, and art history. His college advisor told him the math made him marketable, not a well rounded person, just marketable. I “get” that everyone has to work, but when it comes right down to it, men are expected to work their whole lives and provide for a family. They don’t get the option of “staying home with the baby”. I had a friend who was a stay at home dad, and he was basically shunned at all the preschool coffee BS. One mom even said something must be wrong with him, that he was a “creeper”. A woman stays home with her kids because that’s what moms do, but if she goes out for the evening with her girlfriends, dad is left home to “babysit”. There’s a double standard everywhere for everything. Not just art.
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Totally agree with you Stacy. It is nuts.
Thank you, Stacy, for sharing this. I really appreciate the realization of a double-standard that cuts both ways. I’ll write a full reply to this topic, but in response to you:
Hearing about these things pissed me off immensely. I’m single, 40, and I live alone. I love art, meditation, yoga, and writing. And I am basically viewed with very obvious suspicion and derision despite also being a regular dumb-ass guy in many other ways. I really hate been treated like I’m a criminal waiting to happen, or (as a straight man) that I’m gay based on my interests alone.
So I feel the pain your friend and husband have felt over this. And sadly most of the negative reactions I have received are from women.
I have more thoughts on this topic, but again thank you for sharing.
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Good point it works both ways. If women want equality in work, men need equality in home, child raising and community life.
Imagine a small town in which a woman and a man who’s kids were in same class went for coffee after drop off. Eyebrows raised right? So the guy gets shunned. If men have no opportunity to be center of family life, how can women have equal opportunity to be center of work life. We need to look at the whole big picture and it’s complex.
In my experience, from college courses, to community art and writing classes, to gym classes such as yoga and tai chi, when men attend the first class and see they are outnumbered, most of them drop the class. That’s why I made the flip remark about “girl cooties” (a phrase I borrowed from Dr. Debra Doyle’s essay, “The Girl Cooties Theory of Genre Literature”).
But men’s work is more valued and more rewarded — with attention, reviews, and prizes. Nicola Griffith has an interesting series of posts with data about which gender gets the attention of literary prize committees, movie awards, etc. See: https://nicolagriffith.com/2015/08/13/man-booker-2015-longlist-gender-of-the-protagonists/
As a man (who is in no way speaking for other men) I can admit to not reading instructions, looking at maps or taking classes until it’s absolutely necessary. And while that may seem ridiculous, let me explain. For me personally, I like to be mentally challenged. I like to figure things out on my own. It has nothing to do with ego or securing my place on a masculinity scale. I’m very aware that I cannot be good or successful at everything I try but you can be damn well sure my I will give 237% to the task at hand until I can go no further. Only then will I reach out, ask for help, look at the map, read the manual or take that class. And you know what, something incredible happens when I “wing it”; I become more creative. Improv helps me think. It helps me solve problems. It helps me understand. It helps to keep me present. It helps me to be spontaneous. It helps me to take risks. It helps me to be independent. I want to figure things out on my own sometimes. There’s more satisfaction (for me anyway) in working it out. It may not always be perfect, but what is…..
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Thanks for starting this topic. Are any men going to contribute to this discussion?
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All of the above. Love it when men take care of their kids it is seen as “babysitting.” Men are raised to be the breadwinners. Women are not valued in this society the way men are whether they are at home with children or working outside the home. Not sure that answers Danny’s question BUT these are my thoughts after reading the comments.
How long will we wait for a man to respond?
It’s the same situation when men won’t stop and ask directions. Also my dad was a mechanic and he preferred to deal with women bc he said men would always think they knew more about cars than he did, and my dad was a very good mechanic. Women would not disagree with his diagnoses. But I know there are mechanics that will take advantage men or women. Oh there are women mechanics too, far and few. But would you trust them more or less bc they are female? Anyway most of the art classes I have taken have more women students. And it seamed like the guys in the class would get more attention from the teacher. I guess the teacher thinks they are more serious students than the women. How many guys have replied to your question? Danny would you prefer to have more men in your classes, or does it matter? Maybe it’s more of a “monkey” thing for a guy. Thanks Danny!
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There are many factors behind this, and you’ve covered some good ones, as have the commenters.
I have noticed that in some groups–thankfully not so much in the art community, usually–that men are seen as an unwelcome intrusion. If the group is predominantly women, they often would prefer that it be exclusively women. And that vibe is absolutely unmistakeable. The unwelcome-ness will hit you right in the face.
On the flip side men are no better. If they hear you are getting involved with anything that is remotely associated with women, you will be, at best, ridiculed. Now these men normally have the IQ of a doorknob, but still. It sucks to be the recipient and men steer clear of provoking this.
And, as a single guy, society absolutely incorrectly assumes that if you like anything that women also like you are definitely gay. No problem if you are gay, but if you are straight, it’s very frustrating (what if the love of your life wrongly assumes that you’re gay and therefore you never get that first date?) I feel fortunate to feel confident enough in my masculinity that this isn’t much of an issue, but for some guys this would absolutely keep them from ever going near a “women’s thing.”
Another scenario, as Stacy pointed out, is that you could be viewed as some sort of creepy pedophile mass murderer archetype because you stepping outside the bounds of what society deems as normal. You might say “no way” but believe me it happens all the time. Men are supposed to go to work in an office and wear a uniform or suit and unwind with some booze and TV at the end of the day. Period.
The funny thing I’ve noticed is that women always seem to know what is the healthiest way to live and instinctively swarm on each activity long before science and the media have caught on. By the time a man hears that yoga is good for you, journaling and art are good for you, etc., the activities have become female-dominated. So the guy thinks (for the above reasons) oh, that’s not something I should be involved in.
Can you see the insanity? The things that we men need most are the ones that we are late to the party and are avoiding. No wonder you come across so many negative, unhealthy men in our culture.
So ladies, if there is one thing I would ask, it is to do everything you can to encourage the men in your life to get involved with these healthy things. Do it in a way that calms their fears of experiencing the items I listed way back at the top of this long response. Their lives are literally at stake.
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Also, what is with the disparity in archaeology? When I was growing up, all my friends and I all wanted to be just like Indiana Jones and/or were fascinated by ancient cultures. I wonder why men have stayed away from the field.
You have to use those little makeup brushes to clean off the artifacts. Too girly.
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We’ve noticed the same thing in our calligraphy guild and having been in existence over 40 years, a few things are clear.
There were originally many men in our guild, which was started by the head of art at one of the major movie studios. Joining the guild offered a leg up on job connections for many–the cities hired calligraphers to put names on thousands of certificates; the movie titles and credits were often done with calligraphy; teachers were in demand.
The cities have been phasing out their calligraphers. During the recent recession, Los Angeles City laid of most of theirs, after luddite citizens complained that it was criminal to pay for artistic talent. The remaining “calligraphers” now print the names on the certificates (so ugly).
I, for one, am involved with calligraphy and sketching, as much for the social side as the artistic side. I’ve made friends all over the world, through these shared passions. Travel to conferences takes me to many places I would have otherwise never visited and I lead study tours and plan events in the U.S. and Europe.
My career was in IT–programming and design was very creative. Once I was promoted to management, I took up calligraphy to fill the creative vacuum. Calligraphy led to sketching and watercolor. After our company brought in cheap labor from other countries and all IT employees were laid off (many companies have done this, leaving less places to look for a new job), I decided to use my art to work freelance. I’ve gone back to school to study graphic and web design and I teach calligraphy part-time for a local university.
Men are still involved with art where it earns money–they attend graphic art conferences, for instance. The numbers of men at our annual retreat have dwindled, when a man stops coming, there are never any new men to take their place–women sign up and have a great time. Our guild does occasionally get new male members–passionate artists or lovers of handwriting–many classes workshops are still attended by only women.
>>Are any men going to contribute to this discussion?
I hang out on the SBS FaceBook page, and a half-dozen other art-related pages and indeed most contributors there would appear to be women, which maybe speaks to the idea of females wanting to connect and share more than men. I’m blown away by the quality of the work; and tend to post infrequently, not least because I’m not producing as much as I’d like, and less of what I’d like to have out there as my finished work.
As for classes, I have taken yoga and tai chi classes for years, and they have always been mostly women, (mostly women instructors, now that I think of it…).
The couple of art workshops outside of SBS I’ve taken have a similar makeup both of participants and instructors.
I would say that I think I personally enjoy skills-related classes like, say printmaking or watercolor as opposed to genre-related classes like “interpreting landscapes”. This may also relate to where I am in the learning process….. much more on the early/beginner side, for which SBS works well for me. Of the four SBS classes I’ve taken, my favorite SBS instructors are pretty evenly divided between genders.
I’m also involved in a 35 member a cappella choral group which is mixed both in leadership and personnel. The genders see quite balanced in our music group and several others with which I’m familiar.
I am a guy that takes, teaches, and enjoys art and art journaling. There are a few of us out here!
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What’s your thought on the subject, Brian?
My husband and I were just talking about this while at The Getty in LA…because there were NO women artists represented in the entire museum (none that we saw). Maybe because the stuff was old and in the past women’s roles were different. But still.
As far as men taking art classes…I think the classic joke about men never asking for directions may apply.
Also, I’ve noticed that successful men (artist or not) have a high level of confidence that other people buy into. Women with that kind of confidence are seen differently then men with confidence. Almost frowned upon. People think confident women as scary, mean, selfish, call them a bitch. But a confident man is well looked up to and respected and well paid. A cultural perspective that is hopefully, changing.
But even places like The Broad in LA which is full of more recent/current art work (and is a MUST see to anyone in LA) is mostly men’s work.
It seems as if anything that wants/needs to be changed must have a movement behind it to get enough momentum to actually change the masses thinking and automatic reactions.
Let’s start a movement!
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Research on the eye suggests that the distribution of rods and cones in the back of the eye is different in girls and boys. One is a receptor for color and the other for fast movement. Guess which sex tends to have more receptors for fast movement?!
Just saw an exhibit of 100 works in drawing and printing on tour from the Minneapolis Art Museum in Raleigh, NC. Covers from 1500’s- present …2 works by women.
A couple of male landscape artists have publicly said in interviews that it was the marketing efforts of their WIVES who made their art careers possible. That they thought being an artist and a marketer is almost impossible.
Some male painters in my area have art major degrees (the majority from the ’60’s-70’s) and are considered professionals. But the women have almost all come to it after retiring and learning thru workshops and are considered amateurs (with a sneer) no matter their capabilities or sales. One fellow all but patted me on the head.
Sadly I think a lot of the predominance of male artist’s work, even in contemporary art, is purely an inbuilt assumption that men are ‘better’ and people are often too lazy to even question this. I was horrified by a recent review of the Sydney Biennale that referred to the work of Sheila Hicks as ‘handicrafts’. What?
The reason behind this is simply, that our societies are at large based on partiarchal structures, still. Success is measured in terms valuable for males. Renumeration is contributed to male standards. Fields that come natural to women and are equally important to humanity, sell short and often are gravely underpaid. And yes, women in general don’t like to stand on the marketplace, advocating their own grandeur, so they and their work is often overheard and overlooked. And as for the glass ceiling in the world of business and political power – women, I think, are often appalled by what is asked and what it takes to get to the top and simply are not prepared to pay the price asked in lifetime or peace of conscience, that is asked to get to the top.
I admire music, the one artform that has some equality for both sexes. Maybe this is also true for acting and ballet.
Only 18 percent of working musicians are women.
I guess we are left with ballet. A profession that mangles the body and requires you to be a very specific form.
Historically women have found it harder to get into galleries and be taken seriously. There is a challenge going around. Someone asked me to name 5 well-known female artists, the kind that get into museums. I know a lot about art, and go to a lot of museums, but it took me a while. A lot of the people who make the decisions about what gets displayed are men. A lot of time this equates to money, so the network of men who run galleries tend to put in men. There is also a prejudice that women will only want to make art about domestic things like babies or housework and that therefore men’s art is more important although 1) women do not limit themselves to these subjects 2) even if they did, these subjects are no less worthy of art than any other. Liza Lou’s beaded artwork called “Kitchen” is one stunning piece of art focused on the domestic.
As far as why less men take art classes? I think you covered a lot of it. I also think some of it may come down as social conditioning. Art is often viewed as not a masculine pursuit, so some men don’t want to admit that it’s what they want to do. This, of course, is hogwash. Men are no less masculine for being artists, but I think that it comes into play. I can say that in the gay community, lots of my male friends do art of all kinds. Sometimes being an outsider already means that it’s easier not to worry about other societal theories.
And I’m glad that we have some male teachers in Sketchbook Skool and some male klassmates, many of whose work I really love!
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Maybe men don’t take art classes because they think it wouldn’t be very “useful ” or “important” for their everydaylife? – Men may think “how to build a car or a house” is more “useful” than to learn “how to paint or draw”? – Finally men might think painting or drawing is just a “hobby” and it might not be very important for everydaylife??? – Most men used to be more “rational” than women (I’m a man too, but obviously not so “rational”… I’m drawing too and for me it’s NOT just a “hobby”, it’s a “way of life” and means a lot to me!!). –
I used to teach “how to draw &paint” too and it was the same: 95% women – 5 % men! 🙂
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Men see it as superficial, so they don’t take art classes, unless they are gay-ish( the term I don’t have time to explain refers not only to gay men)
And sincerely, thou I’m a woman, I believe mens are rather successful in the arts when they pursue it, because they take it very seriously. Women’s they have it as a hobby or 2nd career or occupation under a sugar daddy umbrella.
Sorry, but I kind of believe in Cindy Lauper’s song.
I’m not even trying to be original in my ideas : do they have a term for non-feminist ( very important ! I don’t mean Anti-feminist!)
It’s a damn hard job to do, as an artist, and if we like it or not, we are not as strong as mens are emotionally , so why is hard to recognize they do a better job.
Just my humble opinion
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wow wow wow … when I’m in Klass at SBS it takes me until the 5th week to realize I’m nearly the only male student … I believe other male students notice this after the first days … also when in art classes outside The Net, it takes me weeks to realise I am the.only.man … so what makes me different … to other men? … do other men believe they should be doing something “better fitting to their gender”?
Men don’t take art classes for the same reason they don’t buy/read spiritual/self transformation books; our biggest fear is being perceived as soft or foolish, that we don’t know how things really work, that we are a fraud of a man.
I simply don’t know what to say. I don’t to attack any gender, as a society the way we see others and the way we see ourselves, are constructed all together. When I went to highschool I choosed and art and comunication orientation. Many women in every class, very few mens. When I started my Illustration career the numbers where even! Half class women, half class men.
And there are many men in every career, graphic design, art, etc. While, I do see, are really less women in engeniering careers.
I hope my little review helps
Really thoughtful blog. I’ve been thinking the same for years as my art classes have mostly been the same mix of women to men as you’ve mentioned, but never thought of putting pen to paper.
Really frustrating as in my experience in the studio collectives where I’ve been based there are usually more male artists than female – so not sure why this balance doesn’t translate to the general public.
I reckon it might be due in part to peer acceptability. Art is introspective, explores feelings and in many people’s minds is linked to failure or the fear of failure ( the number of adult students telling me horror art teacher stories is astounding!). So in the wider world it is more acceptable for women to take part in these associated activities as their lives steriotypically revolve around relationship orientated subject matter, while for men it is a bigger stretch from the world of football, formula 1and wrestling that steriotypically dominates male domains.
At the end of the day I really wonder if its women who are the brave risk takers of the world, not us men as we would prefer the world to believe.
My current drawing course, actually just starting tonight, has a ratio of 6:2 and last weekends course 7:3, both in favour of women. I wish I could do more to help men realise it’s OK to attend so if anyone out there is enjoying success at attracting men ( to sign up for art classes) I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
Looking forward to more thoughtful interesting posts Danny.
I brought my husband with me when I went to The Focus on Book Arts in 2005 – he excelled in the class with marbled paper! I was so proud of him! Plus he gave me the paper to use in my handmade books: http://anneritataylor.blogspot.com
Yes, I’ve attended many workshops and females always outnumber males. Like when I attended Pilates classes at the local YMCA. As far as ambitious and business oriented artists, some of the female painters I know lead males and certainly hold their own. Some of the younger women I know win awards and exhibit and sell their work. In some cases, Many women I know give up their complete involvement in their art when they start having children. I’ve also noticed that most of the women taking workshops are older and their children are grown and on their own. some of the most ambitious and productive painters I know are female who took a break from their art to raise children and/or pursue a career that would pay the bills for raising children and sending them off to college, etc. As far as men in the United States, they seem to prefer watching football games and drinking beer than pursuing cultural experience.