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Here’s why we like men’s art more than women’s

Work by female artists has traditionally sold for less than pieces by men. But as the gap closes, some art collectors have spied a profit-making opportunity.

Artworks by men are priced about 42 percent higher than artworks by women. That’s the findings from a new research paper, which looked at around 2 million art sales in auction houses all over the world during the last half a century. They also looked at why this was the case, and basically concluded that the art world is just really rather sexist. But it seems to be getting better, and that’s good news for both female artists and art collectors who are looking to make a few bob.

Before making their conclusions, the researchers checked to see if the price difference could be explained by something other than gender discrimination. Firstly, they looked to see if female artists are more likely to use subjects, styles or materials that buyers generally found less appealing. The answer was no. (In fact, female artwork which included stereotypically ‘feminine’ themes like flowers were more highly valued than normal.)

They then explored whether women just produce worse art (in the eyes of buyers) than men. That answer was also no. Not only can people not tell the gender of the artist when shown works they’re not familiar with, they will value a piece of artwork lower if they are told it was created by a woman, even when it was actually created by a genderless AI programme. All this suggests the bias is against women, not women’s art.

That means if societal sexism was shrunk or eliminated, the price gap between male and female-created artworks would also disappear. And there’s evidence that this is already happening. Female-created artworks were discounted four times more in 1970s auctions sales than in post-2010 ones. And the price gap between artworks is generally smaller when auctions take place in countries with better gender equality. Assuming the world continues to become more feminist, this trend creates a money-making opportunity for art dealers. By buying women’s work now, when it’s still undervalued, they can sell it on later at a profit.

Read our explainer on: the gender pay gap.

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Reader Comments

  • WhereAreTheVikings

    What a terrible, terrible shame. Western Civilization nurtured capitalism, and now capitalism is destroying it. And these young people seem to welcome the invasion of their homeland. The media and schools have been very efficient in wiping out all traces of blood and soil.

    • prollawalllynotahumanoid

      Capitalism isn’t the problem. It’s corrupt politicians taking bribes and kickbacks from Globalists and the Chinese.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        Maybe I should have said crony capitalism. Although Italians importing Chinese to make “Italian leather” shoes is not crony capitalism. It is capitalism, pure and simple.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          That would be crony capitalism and globalism combined. They aren’t concerned with the affect their policies have upon their citizens, the health and welfare of their society and culture or their economy. What it isn’t is fair-free trade to further national interests.

          • WhereAreTheVikings

            I’ve always seen them as one and the same, but perhaps they need to be named individually, just to bring home the point.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        But now that travel is so easy and borders are virtually down through H1bs and the like, theoretically you can’t blame capitalists for the pursuit of cheaper labor, although I do heartily blame them not being more patriotic than that. Perhaps the emerging nationalism will force them to voluntarily do what they should have morally been doing all along, and that is employing business practices that preserve their countries and nationalities. The government should be doing everything it can to encourage that, to the extent that small government should do anything but guard the borders and strictly, drastically, limit immigration.

      • Henry Lam

        It is China with its corrupted mindset affecting the world.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          No it is not. Capitalism is the fairest and least corrupt system of all.

          Socialism and communism is based on authoritarianism, coercion and police intimidation. It has and always will be rife with criminality, bribes and kickbacks.

          Corruption can be anywhere but it is the very basis of socialism and communism.

    • Henry Lam

      The government is too weak. They do not understand the mindset of communists and how they educate their people. Those communist people are only loyal to their country and could be dangerous. The immigration law should only accept those who accepted multiculturalism and taught from a democratic education system. This virus events clearly has shown how stupid to take China as a friend.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        The government is not too weak. Just weak-minded about some things.

  • Gabi Rodrigues

    For how many days can a country maximum close their borders to foreigners maximum? Like now, with the virus, everyone is using 30 days. Can it be more?