Female Contemporary Art Dealers in Chelsea (New York): What Happened to the Glass Ceiling?
Department of Sociology Université Paris-Est / Institut Universitaire de France Marne-la-Vallée Cedex 2, France
In most countries, the population of visual artists represented by art dealers mostly consists of men as do most activities that deal with "business". It is, however, striking, that art galleries, especially those specializing in contemporary art, are often run by women and that women run some of the most important galleries. Thus, a social milieu in which the kind of discrimination that often affects women's trajectories and careers does not play, or, at least, plays a much less significant role than in most other social spaces is a worthy object of study.
Our fieldwork will take place at the very heart of the competitive contemporary art market, in New York's Chelsea. Here, we will study women gallerists and will attempt to determine in what measure their activity is different from their male colleagues. We will first compare the characteristics of the contemporary art galleries run by women with those that are run by men in terms of success. Then, we will study the trajectories of those women who direct the most important galleries. Our presentation will first rely on quantitative analyses in order to try and objectivate the link between gender and success. We will also deploy qualitative methods in the form of in-depth interviews with contemporary art dealers. We will use these interviews to try and understand their trajectories and to determine the factors that make it possible for women to succeed in the contemporary art market, in light of the barriers that women still face in other professions.