Okay, smartphone down. At this point, you can probably name five #girlbosses, but could you name five female artists off the top of your head? Now try naming five male artists. See the difference? These are the questions the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) wants us to be asking ourselves. Their new #5womenartists campaign just launched, with the goal of spotlighting the huge gender gap in recognition in the art world. Since even art lovers may face an initial shock of not being able to name five women artists, this is an incredibly important campaign that’s perfectly timed for Women’s History Month.


The concept is simple. The NMWA is going to keep asking, “Can you name five women artists?” until everyone can, well, name five women artists. According to the museum’s website, women make up 51 percent of visual artists today, but score only 28 percent of museum solo exhibitions. Whaaat?! Even more worrisome: “Only 27 women are represented in the current edition of H.W. Janson’s survey, History of Art — up from zero in the 1980s.” Since History of Art is a who’s who in art book used in many art history classes across the country, that would explain why we can’t name five women artists off the top of our head.

“Through #5womenartists, the Women’s Museum hopes to help the public answer the question — without hesitation — ‘Can you name five women artists?’” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling in a statement. “By calling attention to the inequity women artists face today as well as in the past, we hope to inspire conversation and awareness. We are excited to invite other art museums to join us in this initiative.”

So our (and the museum’s) challenge to you is this: Read up on some badass women artists this month! Share what you learn, and join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram through the hashtag #5womenartists. Several museums are already participating in the campaign by proudly sharing Instas of artwork created by women that they have in their collections.

Can YOU name five women artists? Tweet us your thoughts @BritandCo!

(Photo via Sean Gallup/Getty)