Beyond auditions: gender discrimination in America's top orchestras

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Phelps, Amy Louise
The University of Iowa; University of Iowa
Blind auditions; Brass; Gender; Orchestra; Percussion; Women; Music
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thesis / dissertation description
Although women have slowly been accepted in America's top orchestras, they are still a minority. Certain instrument sections remain predominantly male in spite of the implementation of blind auditions. Inconsistency in the use of the screen in blind auditions is partially responsible for the lack of women in orchestras, but the problem is seeded in cultural constructions that act as barriers for female brass, percussion and string bass players. Gender constructions have dictated that women should not play instruments that are loud, heavy or require physical exertion. Nonetheless, many women have shown that they are capable of performing as well as men on these instruments. Brass players are often the highest paid in an orchestra, thus women musicians face economic discrimination when they face bias at the hiring level or in the workplace.