"YOU JUST GOTTA BE GREAT": NARRATIVES OF EXPERIENCE FROM TWO WOMEN CONDUCTING IN THE LUTHERAN COLLEGIATE CHORAL CONTEXT
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Many quantitative studies have shown that there is gender disparity in higher education. In college music programs, for example, women make up just 32% of music faculty (Music Data Summaries 2017-2018, Chart 7), even though nearly half (48%) of graduates from music doctoral programs in the United States are women (Music Data Summaries 2017-2018, Chart 27). Women who are hired average lower salaries and are under-represented in the top academic ranks (Music Data Summaries 2017-2018; Toutkoushian, Bellas & Moore, 2007; Lee & Won, 2014; De Welde, 2017; Armenti, 2004). Gender disparity for women choral conductors has been less explored, particularly for women who conduct or have conducted in the Lutheran collegiate choral context. While quantitative studies can identify problems and show that women do not have equity in academia, qualitative studies can show what inequity looks like and feels like in individual women’s lives. Narrative research, especially, is an important method for exploring the experiences of women who conduct in a variety of contexts. The purpose of this narrative study was to understand the stories and experiences of two women choral conductors who conduct or have conducted at Lutheran colleges with strong choral programs. Research questions included: What meanings do they find in their work? What are the challenges they face? How do they see their gender impacting their experiences? The two participants in this study share stories that show they are both excellent conductors and singers who have had highly successful careers. They are both caring and passionate teachers who share a desire to balance the head and the heart in music making. But their stories also show how differently they see their gender affecting their lives and their work. There are differences in the support they experienced in parenting and in how they perform their gender. Their stories of experience and the meanings they attach to them shed light on issues of gender and representation in the choral conducting field in a specific context and in a new way.
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