Social Inequalities in Ballet: Implications for Career Success

07 March 2024
11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Room 201


Complexity Science Hub
  • Attendance: in person
  • Language: EN


Social Inequalities in Ballet: Implications for Career Success

Global economic inequality remains a complex social challenge, impacting various facets of our society, including the arts. There is growing evidence suggesting inequalities in artists’ access to economic growth and leading positions in their careers. Hence, understanding the social dynamics of inequalities within the arts has become increasingly crucial. In particular, performing arts have long mirrored and perpetuated social inequalities, originating among white male aristocrats. Today, these disparities persist as systemic unequal access to institutional prestige and a disadvantaged professional environment for women.
Recent decades have seen significant improvements in quantifying the behaviors and impact of scientists through the development of new methodologies, such as network science and the science of science, revealing patterns underlying successful careers. While performance in the arts has long been difficult to quantify objectively, research suggests that professional networks and prestige of affiliations play an important role in predicting career success, similar to observations in science.
In this talk, we turn our attention to ballet—a mainstream performing art steeped in historical inequalities—as it allows us to investigate the interplay of individual performance, institutional prestige, and network effects quantitatively. We analyze data on competition outcomes from 6363 ballet students affiliated with 1603 schools in the United States, who participated in the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) between 2000 and 2021. Through network analysis, multiple logit models, and matching experiments, we provide evidence that schools’ strategic network position bridging between communities captures social prestige and predicts the placement of students into jobs in ballet companies. This work highlights the importance of institutional prestige on career success in ballet and showcases the potential of network science approaches to offer quantitative perspectives for career development beyond science.
Moreover, network science research has proven useful in shedding light on the social components of gender inequalities in the field, emphasizing the need for more collaborative efforts to address systemic inequalities within the arts in future research.



Yessica Herrera-Guzman

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