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Making More than Minimum

David J. McGraw • Stage Manager’s Kit • January 8, 2017

A question appeared on social media about gender wage equality for stage managers, which then led to a related question about how many Equity stage managers earn more than minimum union scale.  The 2015 edition of the Stage Manager Survey asked the 1,662 participants if they had tried to negotiate for a higher salary in their past three jobs:



All 2015 Survey Responses

When you isolate just the 609 Equity stage managers, the survey percentages shift:




This might run counter to expectations since the Equity stage managers all begin with a collectively bargained minimum salary, so one could argue that they are already seeing a competitive wage with regularly cost-of-living increases.  But these stage managers tend to negotiate slightly more than the total surveyed group.

When you break down the total (union and non-union) responses by male and female*, a more pronounced shift appears:

All Male SMs

All Female SMs

To parse the data even fewer to include union membership,

Male Equity Stage Managers

Famle Equity Stage Managers

Just as we saw union members report increased efforts to negotiate in general, the both male and female union members report increased rates.  But it is notable that 17% of male Equity members reported negotiating all three times while only 7% of female Equity members did so.

The next big question is whether these attempts to negotiate were successful.  Here are the total responses, responses for Equity members (all genders), and total responses broken down by gender:

Negotiation Success Rate for All Stage Managers

Negotiation Success Rates for AEA Stage Managers

Negotiation Success Rates for Male Stage Managers

Negotiation Success Rates for Female Stage Managers

Please note that this data is based only on the information the survey participants volunteered to share and survey participants were not required to answer every question.  But hopefully the information gleaned from the survey will help further the conversation about gender wage equality in our field.  We will conduct the next Stage Manager Survey in November: what new questions should we ask?

 * Responses from survey participants from other gender identity categories numbered under 10 responses each, so I am not listing them in the gendered breakdowns for the risk of potentially identifying an individual to an employer or inflating a category response due to a single individual’s response.  The responses of all survey participants, regardless of gender identity, are included in the general and union responses.

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