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June 25, 2009


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Hi Isaac,

From reading the text of the study, I am quite sure that Sands understands full well how incomplete Doolee is. The next question is: What else is there? Of course, we can get reasonable accurate data looking strictly at Broadway "productions." But for regional or non-profit theatre?

Reading through the dialogue samples I thought some similar things as this participant is mentioning, and I wondered if more detailed synopses wouldn't have helped. Don't most theaters ask for a synopsis AND a sample?

However, that has nothing to do with methodology.

That being said, I think the participant seems to be missing the point of the audit. The methodology is to try and create a situation where all things are as EQUAL as you can make them. Only in that scenario can you see if there is a bias.

In other words, the participant is assuming that if she checks off that the play doesn't fit in the mission Sands will assume they are discriminating against women. The audit analysis takes many variables and things into account.

I know the study is 100 pages long, but maybe the participant hasn't read it?

And I think this whole thing is also being a little blown out of proportion, by the way.


BTW: In my above comment, the sentence "However, this has nothing to do with methodology" was not supposed to be there.

Sorry, typing to fast. :)


hey art,

like i said, i don't think the baby should be thrown out with the bathwater, and you're right, the goal was equality of presenation, regardless of other factors. I just mean that one way the test could've been strengthened is in simulating as closely as possible what a real script submission is like.

BTW: one place where i disagree with the respondee has to do with detailing "why" they might not recommend something. as I said in an earlier post, reasons why don't really matter if something is discriminatory in effect. If your mission, acting company make-up and other facts end up having a disperate negative impact on female writers, they still need to be retooled even if it wasn't intentional.


If your mission, acting company make-up and other facts end up having a disperate negative impact on female writers, they still need to be retooled even if it wasn't intentional.



It's also easy to forget that it is an undergrad thesis. So the methodology would never be as perfect as if it were done by a full team of researchers with. We as a whole don't do a very good job of tracking and publishing data, so it's hard to quantify what other fields do on a more regular basis.

It's been I think 5-6 years since Susan Jonas and Suzanne Bennett's report on women and theatre was released and folks are still quibbling with the 20% stat.

I don't think we'll ever be rid of bias; however being aware of them as a field is a huge step forward. It's difficult to work towards change with blinders on.

ps.-Thanks for the shout out


And now there's the problem that this experiment most likely cannot be repeated -- it's like BORAT -- once you've seen SBC's face, and know it's attached to that asshole over there, why would you risk humiliation by participating in an event that's filmed?

How can any future researcher develop anonymizing methodology for the script samples, and a protocol for distributing them that won't scream, "participate in our female playwright bias survey HERE"? As soon as the foundation backing the next survey sends the press release, it's over.

Lastly, what if the bluff's called -- that one script bit's good enough for further reading by a literary dept.? What, then?


also... so much for the theory that reading just 10 pages of something gives you any real idea if it's worth reading further.


Something I just noticed about doolee- a quote from their "about" page:
"As a general rule of thumb, if you are a playwright who has had at least one play published or produced in English since 1956 then you are eligible for inclusion on the site."

The site EXCLUDES playwrights who have had no productions. How then, can it prove that there are less female playwrights, and that they write less plays?

a different anon than the other anons

Doolee is a DIY service. Like a lot of the web, it seems to be run by someone who is attempting to serve playwrights without a lot of support.

It's no more "official" than that.

But what is "official" in theatre? Or more importantly, impartial, which is what you really need to do any study whatsoever.

Of course, this is a general problem for any look at any creative industry - nothing objective to interpret from.

However, the study is flawed in so many other ways as well. As anon above noted, the whole excerpt thing is HUGELY problematic.

While no one dispute women have a harder time getting work produced, how did the study get so much attention?

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