The place of women in the theatres of São Paulo: from writing to performing


Paraules clau:

Gender inequality, economy of culture, performing arts, creative workforce


The aim of this article was to provide quantitative information about the gender gap in theatre production in the city of São Paulo (Brazil), thereby helping to raise awareness of the inequalities faced by women in the field. The text compares the opportunities available to men and women working in seven different theatre-related occupations and is underpinned by a mapping of 1,466 plays performed in the city throughout 2018. The data were collected from three weekly guides published by the local media and two monthly publications: a theatre guide and a magazine from a cultural institution that ran 20 cultural venues in the city. Any gaps were then filled by directly contacting theatre venues and the producers of the plays. There was a significant imbalance towards men in the two most strategic theatre production jobs: men wrote 77% of the plays and directed 78% of them. Thus, male professionals were a huge majority precisely in the functions responsible for building the discourse that reaches audiences. Compared to women, this left them in a much better position to express their values, ideas, and perspectives. This gap was smaller when considering performers, of which 46% were female. Women were also largely absent in technical occupations given that they were a minority among lighting directors and set designers. However, women represented the majority among costume designers. The most unexpected result was the parity among producers, with 52% being women. All the aforementioned gaps increased when the number of performances were considered. On average, women worked less in plays that provided more working time that were therefore, more likely to have higher salaries. This current study also showed that when women were responsible for writing, directing, or producing a play, the gender gap was reduced in all the other functions.


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Biografia de l'autor/a

João Oswaldo Leiva Filho, Goldsmiths University

João Oswaldo Leiva Filho is a PhD student at Goldsmiths University (London). He holds a degree in economics and a master’s degree in cinema (both from the University of São Paulo, Brazil), as well as a master’s degree in cultural management from the Open University of Catalonia (Barcelona). Leiva is currently studying different areas of culture at his consultancy company and has edited two books about cultural habits in Brazil.


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Com citar

Leiva Filho, J. O. (2022) “The place of women in the theatres of São Paulo: from writing to performing”, Debats. Revista de cultura, poder i societat, 7, pp. 49–68. Available at: (Accessed: 28 March 2023).