Blind Orchestra Auditions Better For Women

Title: Blind Orchestra Auditions Better For Women

Link: http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/A94/90/73G00/index.xml

Summary:

Efforts to conceal the identities of musicians auditioning for spots in symphony orchestras significantly boost the chances of women to succeed, a new study co-authored by a Princeton University economist suggests.

Traditionally, women have been underrepresented in American and European orchestras. Renowned conductors have asserted that female musicians have “smaller techniques,” are more temperamental and are simply unsuitable for orchestras, and some European orchestras do not hire women at all. Proving discrimination in hiring practices, however, has been difficult.

The study by Cecilia Rouse, an associate professor in Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the economics department; and Claudia Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard University, seems to confirm the existence of sex-biased hiring by major symphony orchestras and illustrates the value of blind auditions, which have been adopted by most American symphonies. Their report is published in the September-November issue of the American Economic Review.

“This country’s top symphony orchestras have long been alleged to discriminate against women, and others, in hiring,” Rouse said. “Our research suggests both that there has been differential treatment of women and that blind auditions go a long way towards resolving the problem.”

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