Gender and the Symphonic Conductor
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Current statistics from American Symphony Orchestra League and College Music Society show the continued vast disparity of professional orchestra music director positions held by men versus women. The purpose of this study is to understand why so few women occupy leadership positions in the conducting arena and to identify traits that emerging female conductors and conducting teachers should consider to support female growth and success. Methods used include: ethnographic research involving current conducting students at the Pierre Monteux School of Music (2012), critical ethnography of current male and female professional conductors and conducting teachers, a quantitative questionnaire survey developing new data concerning professional symphony musicians, and finally, analysis of emergent themes from the above research. Methods are preceded with a general history of women in music and in conducting in the United States. Interview transcription analysis illuminated four emergent themes concerning women in the conducting profession: physical presentation, gesture, leadership, and the desire for more women. General subjects covered: advantages of female conductors, current changes in the conducting field involving gender, dress expectations, gendered gesture, double standards, conducting pedagogy issues, and personal observations of current gender norms and practices in conducting.
- Music