Building Awareness

Definition of Gender Bias
n. Unequal treatment in employment opportunity (such as promotion, pay, benefits, and privileges) and expectations due to attitudes based on the sex of an employee or group of employees. Gender bias can be a legitimate basis for a lawsuit under anti-discrimination statutes.
~ from The Legal Dictionary, Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill, © 1981-2005

The term ‘gender bias’ usually refers to behavior toward women that is based on gender, while the term ‘sexism’ typically relates to negative attitudes toward women.

If we determine a person’s worth because of his/her gender, we practice gender bias.

Gender bias exists and is embedded throughout the arts in the United States, and most if not all other societies in the world. AGBA’s purpose is to promote awareness of such bias so that opportunities, change, and fairness will be advanced by audiences, participants, artists, directors, curators, producers, and art lovers of all ages. Although bias exists across all art forms, AGBA is focusing at present on only the major traditional visual arts, that is painting and sculpture, and on the performing arts, primarily theater and opera. While worthy of attention, dance companies, orchestras and chamber music ensembles, jazz, musicals, photography, installation art, folk art, indigenous art, and other forms of beloved art are not the focus of AGBA initially.

If we don’t see gender bias in our attitudes and actions, we can’t change or counteract it.

Gender bias has existed since history has been recorded, and continues to be the paramount state, even if in our current times bias is sometimes subtly exercised. Women as well as men practice it, often unaware of its existence, like an elephant in the room that is not acknowledged. Everyone in the room, subliminally or knowingly, understands the grey giant is present yet few people acknowledge it, making gender bias more insidious.

AGBA seeks to build awareness of gender bias in forms both subtle and blatant. By addressing the sexist attitudes, cultural mores, and biased treatment of women that existed in the past and continues to exist in the present, AGBA hopes to eventually eliminate bias for future generations. Once audiences, artists, and administrators are actively aware and ready to help stamp out bias, broad changes across the arts will trigger awareness in our children so they do not continue to replicate the biases of the past.

The only reason for bringing together works of art in a public place is that . . . they produce in us a kind of exalted happiness. For a moment there is a clearing in the jungle: we pass on refreshed, with our capacity for life increased and with some memory of the sky.

~ British art historian Kenneth Clark, ‘The Ideal Museum’, ArtNews, January 1954