Why is the popular image of a magician male, while the woman at his side is his assistant? This 2010 article summarizes American gender role stereotyping quickly – men are “instrumental”, women are “expressive”, an interesting variant on the intellectual/emotional and spiritual/material theme. Women are more likely to be seen as witches. Magicians use wands, women read palms.
Then, amazingly, the writer asked women magicians why they thought that only about five percent of stage magic performers are women. The results are not surprising: advertisements are written for men, women don’t have female role models, historical women magicians get dropped from the record. This one was a bit of a surprise:
“Women have to invent for themselves ways to do things that men do not. Most magic instruction is designed for men with jackets. Women’s clothes don’t have pockets and women can’t reach into their breast pockets.”
When I wrote about not fitting into men’s magical clothes I meant it figuratively, but for stage performers it’s literal!
Reporter Peter M. Nardi concludes: “Although there are many young female magicians entering the field, and despite less overt discrimination in magic clubs and performance venues, the continued male-dominance of magic highlights the entrenched values and social roles in our society today.”
Here’s the article: Why Have Women Magicians Vanished?