Magic is an occupation dominated by men. I would go as far as to say that the vast majority, maybe more than 95% of magicians judging by what I see at magic conventions, are men. But why is this the case?
Before I go any further I know that this is the internet, a place where people go to get angry at strangers, so I would like to say that I am not being sexist or reinforcing gender stereotypes. I would love there to be more women (or non-binary) magicians and there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be! I’m just commenting on what I’ve experienced, adding my thoughts on it and hopefully starting a polite conversation.
The prevalence of men in magic is similar to the shortage of female comedians. Up until recently comedy seemed to be a man’s profession although the balance does seem to be being redressed. TV panel shows and comedy programmes now showcase a wealth of female talent which will hopefully show young girls that, not only can they now be Ghostbusters and Jedi, but they can also be funny for a living!
I think the root of the imbalance between men and women in both comedy and magic is the expectations of society and the behaviour that it rewards. We’ve made great strides forwards but even in the 21st century women are told that they only have value if they are physically attractive. If you don’t believe me just consume any media, the pressure on women to look good is overwhelming. On the other hand a man being too focussed on his appearance is seen as a bad thing (although the line on what constitutes ‘too focussed on looks’ is being pushed further and further back as companies try to sell us their latest lotions and potions). Instead men have value if they are intelligent, funny or successful.
Another part of this is what men and women supposedly find attractive. The expectation is that women are attracted to men who make them laugh and men like women who laugh at their jokes. I’m not saying that’s the way it should be, it’s probably a situation caused by socialisation and it will probably change over time (not to mention that it doesn’t take into account women who like women or men who like men or any other combination!) but in my experience it’s true. Therefore men in general are constantly trying to be funny or interesting, which would be more likely to lead them into a career in comedy or magic, while women might feel that if they want to perform they should pursue something that is more concerned with aesthetics such as dance or even singing.
There are probably other reasons such as men are more likely to be a bit geeky and want to feel special by keeping secrets and pretending to have magical powers while women have much more important things to do than spend hours playing with a pack of cards but these stereotypes are all rooted in the expectations of society and will change over time. It was only 1991 when The Magic Circle started allowing female members (which is pretty shocking!) but since then we’ve started seeing more and more female magicians on our screens including young Issy Simpson who will hopefully go on to show young girls that they can be magic too!
These are only my thoughts but to be honest I’m mostly mystified as to why there are so few female magicians so I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments. I’m expecting some disagreement but please be nice! As always please like and share, and remember: when someone says “you can’t” they’re showing you their limitations, not yours.