A bust of William Shakespeare in London (Martin Pettitt/Flickr)

In the United Kingdom, public statues of women just barely outnumber those of men named John, a new study has found. This striking statistic illustrates the wide gap in gender representation in the country’s public monuments, of which less than a quarter honor women, and reflects the permanence of a “bronze ceiling” that diminishes women’s historical accomplishments.

The study, conducted by the shipment company PACK & SEND, analyzed almost 5,000 publicly owned sculptures across the UK using the Art UK online database.

Of the 4,912 statues examined, only 1,470 could be assigned a gender. Of these, less than a quarter were of women (1,119 men and 351 women).

Only 14% of named sculptures in the UK honor women (courtesy PACK & SEND)

Furthermore, the figures show that a majority of the statues for women were nameless (64%) whereas most of the statues for men were named (68%). Of the 892 named statues found, only 128 were of women (14%). Now, compare this to the whopping 82 statues of men named John.

The study also examined gender representation among the artists who made the public statues in the analysis and found that the great majority of them were men: Of 1,914 artists, only 393 were women.

Lastly, the study found that among the 892 named statues, at least 20 of the historical figures honored had “obvious links” to slavery, while only 18 were of people of color.

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...