She’s Done Alright for a Girl: Strategies for teaching women artists

Dr Courtney Pedersen, Courtney Coombs and Dr Anita Holtsclaw
2014 Conference

While evidence suggests that up to 65% of visual arts graduates in Australia are women, women artists are still dramatically under-represented in most sectors of the industry, from institutional exhibitions through to commercial gallery representation. Gender awareness in art school education was a prominent aspect of second wave feminist activism in this country, however the outcomes for women artists, particularly as their careers proceed, often remain discouraging. Over approximately the past ten years, the Visual Arts discipline at Queensland University of Technology has integrated a range of gender awareness strategies into its teaching program across both studio practice and history/theory areas, with relatively strong outcomes amongst female graduates, both as artists and arts workers. Employing practitioner reflection and praxis-based research, this paper takes stock of the approaches that have been trialled over this period and reflects on the combination of both explicit and implicit strategies employed, as well as student responses to them.

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About the author

Dr Courtney Pedersen is Head of Visual Arts at Queensland University of Technology. Her research interests include creative practice-led inquiry, visual arts pedagogy and feminism. She has taught art history/theory for ten years and has been active as an artist and writer since the early 1990s.
Courtney Coombs is a Brisbane-based artist-researcher whose practice critiques the heteronormative, patriarchal structures of both the art world and society more broadly. She is a founding Co-Director of the feminist artist-run initiative LEVEL (established 2010), and a sessional lecturer and tutor at Queensland University of Technology. She is currently completing her PhD.
Dr Anita Holtsclaw is an artist-researcher and academic, whose recent focus has been the gendered aspects of film and photography in contemporary art. She is a casual lecturer and tutor in digital media and studio art practice at Queensland University of Technology, as well as a Co-director of LEVEL.