A friend of mine is doing a grad school assignment on women in improv, and she asked me to share my thoughts. I figured it might also be interesting to share with all of you and see what you think as well. Here they are:
Being a woman in improv has advantages and disadvantages. Commonly held perceptions of women and society’s gender norms influence how women play and how audiences react.
Girls are taught from a young age to be polite, not “bossy” or “controlling,” and to “behave like a lady.” I think this influences how women approach improv, in that we are often less quick to jump out and start a new scene strongly. We often tend to hesitate, to make safer choices and to let our partners drive the scenes.
When we are in scenes, we are often relegated to certain roles: mother, daughter, wife, girlfriend. Men often take on similar restrictions, but for women, it seems our roles are more likely to be identified based on who we are to the men in the scenes. We are defined by our relationships to others, as opposed to being “a businesswoman,” “a dancer,” a politician.”