For the first time in its 180 years of life the New York Philharmonic it has more women than men among its members. There are currently 45 women and 44 men. In the early 1970s, there were just 5 women. Since then the orchestra has started auditioning blindly and now 10 of the last 12 people hired are women. The test to enter is done behind a screen that allows you not to show gender, age, skin color. Only the talent passes.
Taking it from the historical side, it tells the New York Timeswhen the orchestra moved to Lincoln Center in 1962, there was not even a women’s dressing room because there were none in the ensemble. The first came in 1966.
Cynthia Phelps, now principal violist, with the orchestra since 1992, says the change has come after a long ongoing struggle. Auditions have been blocked due to Covid and there are currently 16 vacancies. They will be filled with the screen method. Deborah Borda, president of the New York Philharmonic explains: «Women are earning these positions honestly and fairly». In most of the elite orchestras, at least in the USA, the prevalence is still male, even if you count all the ensembles, parity is reached instead.
The New York Philharmonic has never had a female conductor. Some sections have large gender differences: there are more violinists than men, while there are no women in the percussions. There is a lack of members of the black and Latin community. They are less paid (in Boston there was a lawsuit between the first flautist and the first oboe because the second was paid more) and with difficulty in reaching top positions as in other sectors.
Looking at other industries, it seems difficult to apply this selection method. However, many companies are trying alternative ways: from a genderless curriculum to selections made online, even with avatars. There are companies that have tried the practice of voluntarily deleting information such as name, gender, age and education from candidates’ CVs, thus eliminating any possible bias. The goal of blind recruitment is to overcome prejudices, even unconscious ones, during the recruitment process. Companies are increasingly aware of the fact that a heterogeneous team of professionals and a work environment that favors inclusion allow for better work performance. Studies show that diversity favors the achievement of up to 35% higher results.
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Source: Vanity Fair
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