[EDEQUITY] Screened Auditions

From: Anne.McAuliffe, (AMcAuliffe@edc.org)
Date: Mon Dec 18 2000 - 15:26:32 EST

Good morning, EdEquity members!
I'm forwarding this posting (with the permission of the sender, Linnea
Ista,<lkista@UNM.EDU> ) because I don't remember seeing the subject of
music appear before.

Forward message from Linnea Ista <lkista@UNM.EDU>:

How Blind Auditions Help Female Musicians

Blind auditions for symphony orchestras, in which a screen
conceals the musician's identity from the judges, increase a
woman's chances for advancing in the selection process and
eventually being hired, write Claudia Goldin and Cecilia Rouse.
Ms. Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard University, and
Ms. Rouse, an associate professor at the Woodrow Wilson School
of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University,
write that "female musicians ... have historically faced
considerable discrimination. Thus a blind hiring procedure ...
could eliminate the possibility of discrimination and increase
the number of women in orchestras." The authors note that
"sex-biased hiring has been alleged for many occupations but is
extremely difficult to prove." Symphony orchestras provide good
sample data because, "as opposed to firms, [they] do not vary
much in size and have virtually identical numbers and types of
jobs. Thus we can easily look at the proportion [of] women in an
orchestra without being concerned about changes in the
composition of occupations and the number of workers." The blind
audition was adopted between the early 1970's and late 1980's by
most major orchestras in the United States, and "some orchestras
also roll out a carpet leading to center stage to muffle
footsteps that could betray the sex of the candidate," note the
authors. They write that "among the five highest-ranking
orchestras in the nation ... none contained more than 12 percent
women until about 1980." Currently, the New York Philharmonic,
the orchestra that was a male bastion for decades, boasts 35
percent female musicians, the highest in the sample. "The
increase of women in the nation's finest orchestras has been
extraordinary. The increase is even more remarkable, because ...
turnover in these orchestras is exceedingly low. The proportion
of new players who were women ... was exceedingly high."
Examining the audition records of eight major symphony
orchestras and roster data of 11 major symphony orchestras, the
authors "conclude that the adoption of the screen and blind
auditions served to help female musicians in the quest for
orchestral positions." The article is available online only for
members of the American Economic Association, but information
about "The American Economic Review" may be found at

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