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Gender and orchestras - another datapoint

0 Robert Levine

A fascinating article in the latest edition of Allegro, the official publication of Local 802 (NYC), adds some more data to the subject of gender balance in orchestras:

Each year for Women’s History Month we crunch the numbers to see how our male and female members are represented on various contracts. The data below is for the period Jan. 1, 2009 to Dec. 31, 2009. You’ll see, for instance, that in 2009 there were 1,064 men listed on Broadway contracts as compared to 330 women. We find that all of the male/female percentages have stayed about the same since the last time we ran the numbers.

Male: 6,666 (77%)
Female: 2,016 (23%)

(chairs & subs)
Male: 1,064 (76%)
Female: 330 (24%)

Male: 924 (79%)
Female: 233 (20%)
Unknown: 12 (1%)

(chairs & subs)
Male: 541 (60%)
Female: 345 (38%)
Unknown: 12 (2%)

(chairs & subs)
Male: 412 (55%)
Female: 341 (45%)

Male: 3,748 (78%)
Female: 811 (17%)
Unknown: 269 (5%)

While in no category is there a 50/50 balance between men and women, the closest two categories to gender parity are “Steady Classical Engagements” (most of which are the Lincoln Center orchestras) and “Freelance Classical Engagements.” The fact that the gender balance is closer to parity in the latter may be due to the turnover in that group being higher, thus erasing whatever effects discrimination might have had on hiring for permanent positions in the past.

The striking discrepancy between the two classical categories and the rest suggests that the work that has been done over the years to combat gender discrimination in our field (screened auditions in particular) have had an effect on the perception of women workers amongst those making hiring decisions, even when there is no screen.

That’s good news for the field.

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