Contra Caller Gender

November 18th, 2015
contra, gender
Ruthie posted recently about gender in contra dance playing and calling, finding:
Women called 47% of dances in my sample, and were about a third of musicians (weighted by gigs). This is compared to a baseline of about 54% women in the Bay Area contra dance community.
I'd looked at musicians before but I hadn't looked at callers, so I was curious what I'd see in the historical weekend stats I collected.

My dataset had 97 callers over 267 slots. I categorized people into genders by memory if I knew them, by name if it was clearly gendered, and otherwise I searched for "[name] contra caller" looking for pronouns or pictures. Results:

n-female %-female
Callers 40 41%
Gigs 125 47%

Surprisingly, 47% of gigs being called by women is exactly the number Ruthie got with a very different sample. Probably a coincidence though.

Update 2015-11-18: A big factor here looks like dance weekends shooting for balance. Of the weekends booking exactly two callers, I see:

  ww: 10
  wm: 37
  mm: 10

If instead each of the "which caller to book" decision had been drawing from this pool of 57 male bookings and 57 female bookings the most likely outcome would be:

  ww: 14
  wm: 28
  mm: 14

This is a pretty strong indication that dance organizers are trying to pair male and female callers. If they weren't, Nix points out there'd only be a 2.7% chance of getting a result this extreme by chance.

Update 2015-12-23: I ran the stats for BIDA, since its start in 2009, and got:

n-female %-female
Callers 22 40%
Gigs 69 49%

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