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What Female Artists Can Do About Discrimination

Participation in residency programmes and access to elite education can enhance the opportunities available to women artists.

Being an artist isn't easy. It takes a long time for artists to be noticed for their talent and creativity. They usually only sell their art in small galleries at first, and their early success might only happen in their own country or local area. 

To make matters worse, discrimination persists in the art world, particularly against female artists who often encounter the undervaluation of their work. One study, using a sample of 1.9 million auction transactions from 1970 to 2016, showed that paintings by female artists sell for 42 percent less compared to similar ones by male artists.

Is there a remedy for such discrimination? This was the question that Jung-Yun Han (National Taiwan University), my INSEAD colleague Andrew Shipilov and I sought to address using 15 years of data on Korean artists and their exhibitions abroad. 

While we discovered that female artists were indeed less successful in exhibiting abroad, we were chiefly interested in identifying factors in their careers that might mitigate or eliminate this disadvantage. Indeed, we did find two such factors.

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