Data on the gender split among professional orchestra performers offers a more complex view of the situation. At first glance, the numbers are encouraging: In 2018, 48 percent of players in orchestras represented by the League of American Orchestras were women, a vast improvement from orchestras of the past. However, positions for brass, percussion and some wind instruments – not to mention principal positions – are disproportionately occupied by men.
But we can also look to those numbers for encouragement: They show us that gender parity can at least be improved. One reason for the increase of women in orchestras since the 1970s has been the implementation of blind auditions. Another? Increased social acceptance and visibility of women in roles from which they have been historically excluded.
Making classical music a more equitable place demands a cultural change – and cultural changes don’t happen without conversation and action. Just in the past five or so years, there has been an explosion in initiatives working to address the gender disparity in classical music. Here are some of our favorites.
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