Anti-female bias dissolves when a woman takes up the baton

Dr Anna Edwards has been conducting research on why there is still resistance in some orchestras to woman conductors. For instance:

 

In a phone interview with the highly regarded conducting pedagogue Gustav Meier, he emphatically stated, “The main thing is that there is no difference between the men conductors and the women conductors. There is no difference.” Although I believe his heart was in the right place, I respectfully but emphatically disagree. We DO have differences. You can see and hear these differences. You can see our differences by the way we dress, by the gestures we use, by the gender we choose to identify ourselves with. You can hear the differences by the way we talk, by the way we problem solve, and by the way we connect with people.

Read her full essay here.

Dr. Anna Edwards is Music Director of Seattle Collaborative Orchestra and Saratoga Ochestra

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  • V.Lind says:

    I attended a week-long Meier conducting workshop along with a number of other females. There is not doubt his heart — and his brain — were in the right place. One of the finest gents I ever met, and most intelligent and sensitive, and utterly comfortable with talent, wherever he found it.

    All that you quote Dr. Edwards as saying could equally apply to a male (or female) group:

    [You can see and hear these differences. You can see our differences by the way we dress, by the gestures we use, by the gender we choose to identify ourselves with. You can hear the differences by the way we talk, by the way we problem solve, and by the way we connect with people.]

    This whole issue is getting out of control. There are a rising number of female conductors and MDs every time you turn around — this blog has announced several in recent days alone. As more women choose the conducting route, more succeed, as is inevitable, and plenty places seem more than willing to embrace them. I wish people would stop CAMPAIGNING. It is SO irrelevant: all you want is a good musician on the podium.

  • A. Lieu says:

    We’ll stop campaigning when campaigning is no longer necessary. The numbers have not changed in the last 10 years according to the League of American Orchestras.

    “Plenty places” is not acceptable. It should be “All places”.

    • V.Lind says:

      I seriously doubt that there are enough female candidates — let alone those who would prove the best in an open competition — to fill “all positions.” That that is the case is a subject of interest: women were probably not encouraged to take up the baton until relatively recently; such is social history. But it IS history, and nobody is stopping women from choosing that avenue of music to pursue any more. And the number of able women is proliferating and women are getting big gigs and small as they become available.

      Yes, it may take a little time, but that will turn around very swiftly, you will see. It is not that long ago that women were not allowed to read the news on television (believe it or not, if you are young enough). Here in Canada I remember the first, and how daring it seemed, and how the country watched to see if she would succeed, and how much pressure there must have been on her. Yet in seemingly no time, women were everywhere, and these days as I hear the credits read at the end of a show, there always seem to be far more women producers than men. There is certainly no shortage of women in every kind of job, including the plums. I think Britain and western Europe are much the same — can’t currently speak for many other places.

      History is history and its facts can’t be changed unless you are Trump and his fantasists– but it can evolve and change as we go along, and it is doing. No harm in speaking out, but I still would prefer to hear a concert conducted by a first-rate baton than by a woman just because she is a woman. I detest that sort of feminism.

      • Bruce says:

        Yes, it’s changing now; I think it will change more rapidly in the future. IMHO there are probably a lot of talented young women out there who are just now starting to see conducting as a viable career path. Grazinyte-Tyla, Malkki, Chan, et al are still pioneers even though they’re not the first wave; they are proving that Allsop, Falletta, Glover et al are not examples of a passing fad. In 10 years, when aspiring female conductors have gone through school and have put in their time as assistants & whatnot, then I think there will be a “sudden explosion” of female conductors everywhere, and maybe then it will stop being news.

        There were lots of people, not long ago, who used to say “I’m not prejudiced, but why do gay people have to keep shoving their marriages in our faces all the time?” Now gay marriages are no longer news (in the US anyway), and you don’t hear that complaint any more.

      • MWnyc says:

        “I still would prefer to hear a concert conducted by a first-rate baton than by a woman just because she is a woman.”

        Almost everyone agrees with you on that, V. (I would say “everyone,” but I’m sure there are a few people somewhere – say, at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival – who don’t.)

        I think that what you’re seeing as a “campaign” is mostly just attention from the media. And, as Bruce says, that attention will stop once the phenomenon of females conductors is no longer unusual. For now, though, the words “woman conductor” in a headline still attract clicks.

        • Bruce says:

          When I was a child (40 years ago and more), when people asked what my mother did (even then I could tell they meant “why isn’t she at home”), I would tell them she was a doctor.

          The usual response was “oh, you mean a nurse.”

          Times change, although it can take a while.

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