Why aren’t there more female conductors leading symphony orchestras?

For Thursday,  September 26, 2013

Here’s why you seldom see women leading a symphony
In an article for Mother Jones, editorial coordinator Hannah Levintova investigated the gender gap between male and female conductors in the 800 orchestras in the United States and found only 20 percent of the conductors (including assistant and substitute conductors) are women.  And out of the 22 highest budget orchestras, only one has a female conductor.  Marin Alsop cracked that “thick glass ceiling” when it was announced in 2005 that she had been selected to be music director of the prestigious Baltimore Symphony. (Considerable controversy swirled around that decision to appoint a woman, but she quickly earned the respect and high regard of both the orchestra and the public).  Embedded in Levintova’s article is a wonderful video of Alsop recently conducting the important Last Night of the Proms, the final concert of the 2013 season of the Proms, sometimes called the world’s greatest classical music festival, held every summer in the UK and broadcast over BBC.   It’s an uplifting listening experience, so don’t hesitate to click on the short video.

Related:  Also, take some time to read “Marin Alsop: Society is uncomfortable with women in authority roles,” a brief article about her from The Guardian. In addition, I highly recommend watching this interview with Marin Alsop from Makers: Women Who Make America, the series produced by PBS and AOL.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.