Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of “Blind” Auditions on Female Musicians By: Claudia Goldin and Cecilia Rouse
The Typical Orchestra » About 100 members but may vary between 90 and 105 » The positions are nearly identical between orchestras and over time » What does this mean to the study?
Orchestras Examined » Top Tier (the “Big Five”): § § § Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) Chicago Symphony Orchestra Cleveland Symphony Orchestra New York Philharmonic (NYPhil) Philadelphia Orchestra » Second Tier § § Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (LA) San Francisco Philharmonic (SF) Detroit Symphony Orchestra Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra (PSO)
Noteworthy Data » Currently, NYPhil has the highest percentage of females at 35% after being the lowest (generally at zero) for decades » Female increases in orchestras is even more remarkable because of low turnover rates. § An average of 4 “new hires” per year for topranked Chicago and NYPhil and about 6 for the others. § The number of new hire was small after 1960 and declines over time.
Changes in Gender Share of New Hires » Since the early 1980’s the share female among new hires has risen. § About 35% for the BSO and Chicago § About 50% for NYPhil » Compare this to the rate of less than 10% before 1970.
Main Question: » Did the screen matter in a direct manner or did the increase in women hires come as the result of a host of other factors, including the appearance of impartiality or an incresed pool of female contestants coming out of music schools? § So, where the most selective music schools producing substantially more female students in the early 1970 s?
Could Changes in Audition Procedures Unveil Hiring Bias? » Quotes concerning women in orchestras: § “women have smaller techniques than men” § “are more temperamental and more likely to demand special attention or treatment” § “the more women (in an orchestra), the poorer the sound” » Zubin Mehta § Conductor of LA Symphony (1964 -1978) and NYPhil (1978 -1990) § “I just don’t think women should be in an orchestra. ”
The Audition Process: Today » The orchestra advertises auditions » Interested applicants submit resume and often a tape of compulsory music § In some, may audition live, even if previously rejected based on tape » 3 Rounds: § Preliminary § Semifinal § Finals » Two Main Types: § Live § Blind
Live Auditions » The semifinal round is sometimes live » The final round is almost always live and involves the attendance and input of the music director. » Committee advances all deemed qualified, so no limit to number of musicians in each round » The final round generally results in a hire, but sometimes does not
Blind Auditions » Almost all preliminary rounds are now blind. » A screen is used to hide the identity of the player from the committee. » Examples: § Large pieces of heavy (but sound-porous) cloth § Sometimes suspended from the ceiling of the symphony hall » Similar to large room dividers » To ensure even more impartiality, some roll out a carpet leading to center stage to muffle footsteps that could betray gender » Only the personnel manager knows the mapping from number to name
Is Blind Really Blind? » Can trained musicians discern candidates based on different playing styles? » Ultimately, it would be vary rare for this to happen, as it would have to be a wellknown candidate with an unusually distinctive musical style.
Data and Methods » Actual audition records of 8 major symphony orchestras » To preserve full confidentiality, do not reveal names of orchestras » Rely on first name of the musician in determining sex § Determined sex of 96% of those auditioning » Excluded incomplete auditions » Considered each round separately » Restrictions exclude 294 rounds and 1, 539 individuals » Final sample: 7, 065 individuals and 588 audition rounds (from 309 separate auditions)
Data and Methods Cont… » Second data set: § Orchestra personnel rosters § Musician considered new to the orchestra if he or she had not previously been a regular member of that orchestra § Excluded temporary and substitute musicians, as well as harpists and pianists § Final sample of 1, 128 new orchestra members from 1970 to 1996
Effect of Screen of Likelihood of Being Advanced » Raw data: § Without a variable for orchestral “ability”, women fare less well in blind auditions than otherwise § The relative of success of female candidates (compared to male) appears worse for blind than for not-blind auditions and holds for every round » Limited Sample: § For those who auditioned both with and without a screen, women’s success rate is almost always higher in blind auditions
Effect of Screen of Likelihood of Being Advanced » Examples: § Preliminary round with no seminfinals: » Blind: § 28. 6% of women advance; 20. 2% of men advance » Not-blind: § 19. 3% of women advance; 22. 5% of men advance § Since these are the same women, a woman enhances her own success rate by 9. 3% by entering a blind preliminary round » These differences are large relative to the average rate of success § Women’s success rate increased by 14. 8% for blind finals and overall success rate is 1. 6 times higher for blind auditions
Controlling for “Ability” » Used an individual fixed-effects strategy to control for contestant “ability” that does not change with time § Can do so because 42% of individuals in sample were in more than 1 round in the data set and 6% competed both with and without a screen § 24% of the musicians competed in more than one audition
“Ability” Findings » The screen had a positive effect on the likelihood that a woman is advanced from the preliminary round (when there is no semifinal) and from the finals § For preliminaries not prceded by a semifinal, woman had a 11% better chance of selection § For those in the finals, chances of winning increased by about 33% » The effect in the semifinal round remains strongly negative.
Potential Biases 1. Could the females that are improving over time be those that switch from not-blind to blind auditions? § » » » Could the growth rate of their “ability” be faster than that of men? What if those individuals who get hired at their first audition are more able musicians than those who audition multiple times Could the orchestras that use screens be less discriminatory against women than those that do not? What if they did a bad job picking the sex of participants based on their first names?
Effect of the Screen on the Hiring of Women » Compare auditions that are blind versus those that do not use the screen at all or for early rounds only. § Women are about 5% more likely to be hired than are men (not significant) » Effect is nil when there is a semifinal round. » Impact for all rounds is about 1% (large standard errors and not significant) § But, given that the chance of winning an audition is 3%, the authors need more data to be able to estimate significantly and even a 1% increase is large § In addition, these estimates demonstrate a difference stimulated by a completely blind process
Example for Clarification on Hiring Results » Two Regimes: § § § Not Blind: no screen; Blind: with screen Not Blind: 20% female candidates Blind: 30% female candidates In 1970 s, 10% of new hires were woman Assume 30 candidates enter each audition Success rate for not-blind will be. 0166 for female and. 0375 for typical male § In blind regime, % of new hires that are female is 35% (approx. figure for last 10 yrs) § The success rate must now be. 0389 for females and males decreased to. 0310 § Therefore, success rate for woman had to increase by almost 2. 2% when going from not-blind to blind
Conclusions from Example » The point estimate of 1% for the result of the effect of screening describes half of the increase in the success rate » The increase of being hired out of audition accounts for 66% of the total increase of females among new hires » Half of the 66% comes from the switch to blind auditions » Other half could be from a greater acceptance of female musicians by music directors » The remaining 34% is a result of a higher percentage of females as a part of the applicant pool.
Conclusions » The audition process began changing in the 1970 s and physical screens were increasingly used to conceal candidate’s identity and ensure impartiality » The weight of the evidence persuaded the author’s and is what they decided to emphasize » They find that: § the screen increases - by 50% - the probability that a woman will be advanced from certain preliminary rounds § Increases by severalfold the likelihood a woman will be selected in the final round