Just in time for International Women’s Day, New York City announced that it was adding statues of four women to public spaces in an attempt to counterbalance the apparent lack of statues commemorating historical females. Jazz singer Billie Holiday, civil rights activist Elizabeth Jennings Graham, doctor Helen Rodríguez Trías and lighthouse keeper Katherine Walker will soon receive their own memorials.
In the U.S. and the UK, there is a staggering lack of public statues of women. As database enquiries by the New Statesman in the UK and the Washington Post in the U.S. show, only around 13 and 7 percent of statues in these countries depict historical women as opposed to historical men. While U.S. numbers are a couple of years old, the country likely still has some catching up to do given the enormous gap between male and female statues.
The U.K. analysis showed that if fictional characters were included, the count of individual women statues rose to 30 percent. 110 women statues in the UK were depictions of allegorical or mythical figures, like justice or the arts. Out of the 71 real-life women depicted in the UK, 46 were royals, compared to 19 out of 517 historical men.