Of course, it hasn't always been that way. In the late 1960s, in the midst of the Viet Nam War, as the women's movement burst upon the world, militant feminists symbolically scaled the landmark female sculpture in the middle of New York harbor, cast off their bras, lit them afire, then hurled them in women's liberation at Lady Liberty's feet. The arts, ostensibly the most sympathetic segment of society to such a revolutionary protest, appeared to welcome the movement with open arms; even though behind the scenes, in Europe, the Far East, even within the SOHO lofts and the gallery walls of this country, men continued to dominate every aspect of the art world; at most paying lip service to women in the arts with token retrospectives of O'Keefe, Frankenthaler, Nevelson, or Cassatt.
As late as 1981, a London exhibit called The New Spirit in Painting included NO women artist. A year later, in Berlin the Zeitgeist Exhibition representing some forty artists included only ONE woman. In 1984, at the opening exhibit of the Museum of Modern Art's remodeled galleries, an international collection of over 160 artist showed the work of only 14 women. That same year, another New York exhibition of Expressionist artist showed the work of only TWO female artists amongst the 22 males.
In response, a group of female artist banned together to form the Guerrilla Girls. They protested with posters and full page ads the injustice of relative price differences of work by male as opposed to female artists. And before we comfort ourselves in thinking, that was then, this is NOW, (pardon the pun), as recently as five years ago, a New York Times Magazine cover pictured the "art all-stars" of a noted New York art dealer. Of the eleven artist pictured, NOT ONE was female or of ethnic descent.