Recently, we released a report with the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, Inc. (USITT)
on the state of the demographics of the technical theatre workforce. For today’s blog post, we hear
from David Grindle, executive director of USITT.
The general understanding was and remains that technical theatre is a predominantly male, white workforce. Yet, no one had really invested in doing the study to define that beyond “mostly.”
USITT and many of our partner organizations, along with corporations, universities, and producing entities across the country, have a stated goal of creating and sustaining a more diverse and inclusive workforce. While we have found many studies that look at demographics of performers and art support organizations, we could not find any that focused solely on the workforce in design, technology and management. We have been working towards growing the diversity of our workforce; however, up until now, we have not had a measurable point to compare to.
Thus, USITT and its board felt that a study to measure demographics was an important service to the industry and are committed to making this a longitudinal service.
Unsurprisingly, the study confirmed that our workforce is as predominantly white as people perceive it to be. Some other data points that surfaced which we found particularly interesting were around the diversity of our younger employees in the industry and how they exemplified a change in how we talk about diversity, with higher instances of using varied language when identifying their gender, sexual and racial identities. In addition, 30% of our workforce identified as LGBTQIA, and that is three times the national statistic. I thought it interesting that Digital Media, the newest discipline in our workforce, trends more diverse than other more established disciplines of design we looked at.
Showing the differences in compensation by gender and race shows that we follow the trend nationally, where white males earn more than others.
Being able to quantify pay disparities is another statistical benefit that has come from this study. This data will be a good benchmark as more job postings nationally are requiring disclosure of salary range rather than “with experience,” and we can measure if this will begin to close that gap a bit.
Since its publishing, I’ve seen the study used in various social media posts as folks draw attention to one aspect or the other. Having statistical data allows us to quote the study when speaking, and that has made a difference in how people view some of the topics we are talking about. In order to keep the information top-of-mind and conversations happening, we are highlighting one segment of the full report every few weeks to spark discussion about where we are moving as an industry.
The report provided a necessary baseline and snapshot of where we are today in terms of workforce diversity. We will repeat this study in 2025, with the goal of continuing every five years thereafter, to measure change and the impact our various organizational efforts have made.