Let Your Voice Be Heard

by David J. McGraw

Survey Participation Rate by YearThis year marks the 7th edition of the Stage Manager Survey. If you have not taken the survey yet and you have served in a stage management role in at least 3 American productions, please visit http://smsurvey.info. The 2019 survey runs through Monday, November 25th, but don’t wait to share your thoughts on the profession.

We are slightly behind the pace of the record-setting 2017 survey, but we have already received 900 responses after just one week. If you have participated in previous surveys, please return and join the over 450 returning stage managers so that we can track how the field is changing. Returning stage managers skip about a dozen of the early-career questions, so it is a shorter survey. Some questions are rotated out every year, so that we can cover new topics such as the following:

  • Division of Duties for the PSM/GSM, SM, ASM, PA, and Intern
  • Length of SM Contracts
  • Distribution of Contact Information
  • SM Team Members in Show Blacks and in Costumes
  • Internship Compensation
  • Rehearsals of Intimate Scenes
  • Health Insurance
  • Workplace Harassment

While the survey is running, it is essentially a ‘closed box’ with just a few windows to track participation and to make sure there are no major problems. The healthcare questions are getting the most early feedback as the issue itself is quite complex. While many of the healthcare questions are designed to measure use and satisfaction of stage management workplace plans, future versions of the survey will ask about use of marketplace plans and Medicare. Other commenters have requested more questions about workplace harassment and more dance-focused questions in the future. Another window that looks at the survey while it is running is geographic representation. We are just five states short of representing all fifty, so if you reside in any of the following, we want to hear from you!

  • Alaska
  • Kansas
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Wyoming

Once the survey concludes in a couple of weeks, the real fun begins: examining the raw data, cross-referencing responses, and writing the end report. In 2017, the raw data was a 33,568-page spreadsheet. Some findings require diving below the surface. For instance, in 2017 here were the responses to a question about how much stage managers are paid:2017 SM Pay per Week

We took this data and then cross-referenced it, filtering for Equity stage managers and those stage managers who are not a member of any union.

Comparison of Weekly Pay and AEA/Non-AEA Status

We also filtered the data from the first question based on gender identity. The following chart are the cross-referenced responses. I have greyed out the center section because there were a limited number of participants who identify their Gender as Agender, Other, or Prefer Not to Answer, so I did not include that data lest I inadvertently identify anyone’s otherwise anonymous responses.

Comparison of Weekly Pay and Gender Identity

The black numbers are the number of responses and red percentages are the percentages by row – so of the 41 participants who reported not being paid for their most recent job, 29% identify as male, 56% as female, and 7% as non-binary.

But, digging even deeper, we can see a greater gender wage gap at the other end of the pay spectrum by looking at the blue percentages, which represent the percentage of total male-identifying and total female-identifying participants (there were no Non-binary participants in this row).

Comparison of Weekly Pay and Gender Identity - Highest Wage Bracket

If we look just at the red numbers, female stage managers appear to be doing slightly better than male stage managers: 53% to 47%. But there are a lot more female stage managers than their male counterparts. If we look at the blue percentages, we see that 15% of male stage managers fall into the highest salary category while only 6% of female stage managers do. It will be very interesting to see how the percentages play out in the 2019 survey.