I asked some people who couldn't attend the event to send in some thoughts to share with the group. In the end, time was tight, so I'm sharing them now.
Dr Sara Houston wrote a comprehensive list of notes and recommendations on how higher education institutes can work to promote gender equality, which I've included among the session pages. You can read it here:
I've drawn a complete blank on who sent me these comments, I'm sorry:
'Dammit, I can't find the link. I read something really interesting about how BBC Radio 3 realised that a lot of their classical music programming was male because the majority of composers on the publishing lists are male. And so they took the editorial decision to challenge themselves by looking outside those publishing lists to find female (and other minority) composers, and the result was *automatically more interesting programming* because they were looking outside the standard, small pool. Listeners wrote in to express their happiness at the new programming, and I think listener numbers also increased.
To me there's a very clear parallel with the current situation in dance: as we've seen again and again, the lion's share of commissioning and programming opportunities going to a very small pool of makers, who are frequently male. I think there would be a problem with this small pool whatever the gender makeup; but it is interesting to prod why there is a sense that male work sells, or male work fills a particular size of venue, or whatever else drives these decisions. And I think we need a major venue to take a bold, creative decision in the manner of Radio 3 and challenge itself to look outside this pool and commission new artists, and that probably de facto means more female artists. If one of the centres should choose to lead on this, I think we might see some very interesting results.'
Elle Follis, a recent NSCD graduate who's now undertaking further training at the José Limón Dance Foundation in New York, sent me this message:
'I'm writing to you after seeing lots of discussion of gender in dance, and the debate you have tomorrow!
'I actually have a research project going on at my course in Limon. Im not sure if you know, but the Limon company is a very gender specific repertory company, in terms of roles can only be performed by a specific gender. the idea of a girl picking up a guy, and reversing the role is frowned upon by "the people higher up". As part of the program, we can choose a solo to perform and learn from a company member of our choice. I decided to choose a male solo and learn from a male dancer, and while it was agreed by my program leader, I'm not allowed to discuss and let the artistic director know. I'm not sure if I picked the solo because I wanted to challenge the gender role, or because I love the male dancer and the solo. I think its a mixutre of both. I've decided to link my solo project and research project together through the subject of gender in dance, and im still unclear as to whether to keep it to gender in Limon rep, or in a broader sense. I was just wondering if you could share some thoughts on this with me, in light of the debate you have tomorrow! And if I could maybe reference you. I know this kind of gender specific role is quite stereotypical of older rep companies where roles were created on certain people, but I think it links into modern day audition calls etc. Look forward to hearing from you!'
If you'd like to add your own thoughts on this subject, please do send them to me.