Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Morgan Falconer

Second Advisor

Kathy Battista


The concept of the “glass ceiling” means that an acknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession exists. This paper discusses the state of gender inequality in contemporary New York galleries today, and how they have changed over the past 10 years as well as contextually, throughout history. Often, gender inequality in the art world is made visible by the lacking number of female artist museum shows or through comparing auction prices. Statistics regarding gallery representation is less common, in part due to the fact that artist representation is a fluid process and it is difficult to track these figures over time. Furthermore, this paper will consider the patriarchal hierarchies existent in the art market and the subsequent aspect of female artists being seen as the “other” or “exceptions to the rule”, making the road to commercial success significantly more difficult for a female artist. This paper will also discuss how the feminist art movement functioned as a catalyst for a more balanced industry, and how it has enabled women artists such as Cecily Brown and Kara Walker to be critically received at a similar level as male artists. By providing numbers and hard evidence through a historically analytical lens, feasibly, the issue will become more visible and harder to dismiss.