Women in Music: A Preliminary Report

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Among the recent studies concerning the status of women at various colleges and universities throughout the country, some have contained information on the activity of women as faculty and students in the discipline of music. Available for this report were the studies originating at Carnegie-Mellon University, the City University of New York (CUNY), the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Maryland, and the University of Oregon.1 In addition, statistics compiled by the U.S. Office of Education concerning degrees earned by women in music have been valuable.2

Each institutional study reflects an individual approach and emphasis, and thus it is not possible to present a uniform set of statistics here about women in music at the five institutions in question. What we have done, therefore, is to isolate what statistics we could, and we offer them as an interim report. We look forward to the results of the full-scaled investigation already undertaken for the College Music Society by Professor Elizabeth L. Elrod, which will consider—among others—the factors of size, location, and public versus private nature of different institutions. The general picture that emerges from our limited investigation of women in music at the above five institutions is this: while women constitute the majority of undergraduates in music and a lesser, but still significant, percentage of graduate students in the field, women are poorly represented on music faculties, especially as rank increases. It appears that the principal element affecting women's prospects for college teaching careers in music at the five institutions is their sex. Women have not attained status in the profession commensurate with their qualifications.

At the undergraduate level women are well represented at the institutions providing such statistics. For example, women comprised 58% of the music majors at Berkeley (1966-69) and 53% at Carnegie-Mellon (1970-71). These percentages are in keeping with the nationwide statistics presented below in Table 1 of earned degrees conferred to women in the years 1967-68 through 1970-71; consistently women have been the recipients of 55% and upwards of the Bachelor's degrees in music awarded nationally.

 


TABLE 1
EARNED DEGREES CONFERRED TO WOMEN IN MUSIC
(from Digest of Educational Statistics 1969-1972)

  1967-68 1968-69 1969-70 1970-71
Bachelor's 56.4% 57.3% 55.4% 55.0%
Master's 43.3% 45.0% 47.4% 47.6%
Doctoral degrees 14.6% 15.3% 14.7% 16.3%

 

Percentages of women in graduate programs at the five institutions showed a slight decline, although women were still present in substantial numbers ranging from 40-50% at CUNY (Fall, 1971) to 28% at Berkeley. According to the CUNY report, graduate admissions procedures did not appear to discriminate against women applying to the doctoral program in music, and grade point averages as well as graduate record scores of women admitted to the program indicate that the female applicants were equally or even slightly more qualified than the men.

In the absence of adequate information in the reports about advanced degrees awarded to women in music by the various institutions during the differing time spans of each study, statistics from the U.S. Office of Education prove instructive. Table 1 points to consistently increasing activity by women, rising from 43.3% of the Master's degrees in 1967-68 to 47.6% in 1970-71. Similarly, the proportion of doctoral degrees awarded to women rose from 14.6% in 1967-68 to 16.3% in 1970-71.

All five studies, however, included information indicating that earning an advanced degree in music did not result in equal employment opportunities for men and women of similar qualifications.3 Of the institutions under consideration, the CUNY senior colleges and the University of Maryland (1968-69) employed the greatest numbers of women on their music faculties, i.e., 29.1% and approximately 30% respectively. However, when this Fall, 1971, CUNY figure of 29.1% is interpreted in the context of the 43% national availability pool of women awarded advanced degrees in music in 1969-70 (both Master's and doctoral degrees), as well as in respect to the 42.7% local (New York City area) availability pool and the 51.5% CUNY feeder college availability pool, the very real underutilization of qualified women by the music departments of the CUNY senior colleges at that time becomes apparent.4

Furthermore, at both the CUNY senior colleges and the University of Maryland women in music were concentrated in the lower ranks of the faculties, with women occupying only 18.3% of the professorial ranks at CUNY. The CUNY study found that not only did the percentage of women on music faculties at the senior colleges decline as rank increased, but also that women in music remained at a given rank for longer periods of time than did men before being promoted.

At the University of Oregon (1969-70) women in the department of music comprised only 8% of the professorial ranks, while at Berkeley the music faculty included no women of tenure status during the three-year period of the study. At the same time, however, women constituted 38% and 28% of the graduate students in the Oregon and Berkeley departments respectively. This means that while these departments were educating significant numbers of women who would soon enter availability pools, they were, nonetheless, not currently employing women professionals in positions of higher rank from the availability pools in any commensurate way.5 The same can be said of CUNY with its ratio of 40-50% female graduate students to 18.3% female faculty members with professorial rank.

To conclude, the large-scale exclusion of women in music from the professorial ranks indicated by the available studies has far-reaching implications. It suggests that in the very recent past all but a few women in the field at these large institutions were deprived of the opportunity to develop their professional capabilities in the fullest sense and exercise them in various important areas of academic life. For by being concentrated in the lower ranks, women not only earned less than men, but they also had limited access to the privileges of 1) departmental vote, 2) applying for promotion and tenure, 3) serving on committees that determined departmental policies, and 4) teaching upper level courses for which their academic training had prepared them. Such circumstances are discriminatory and wasteful of women's talents. In addition, the absence of women in positions of importance both reinforces society's negative image of women as being unsuited for leadership and perpetuates sexual stereotyping.


1Final Report of the Commission on the Status and Needs of Women at Carnegie-Mellon University (Pittsburgh, 1971); The Status of Women at the City University of New York. A Report to the Chancellor (New York, 1972); Report of the Subcommittee on the Status of Academic Women on the Berkeley Campus (Berkeley, 1970); Sandler, Bernice, Sex Discrimination at the University of Maryland (College Park, 1969); Acker, Joan, et al., The Status of Women at the University of Oregon (Eugene, 1970).

2Simon, Kenneth A., and Grant, W. Vance, Digest of Educational Statistics 1969-1972 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1970-73).

3An argument that women in music have limited themselves by not moving beyond the Master's degree to the Doctorate in greater numbers than they have should perhaps be considered in light of the following factors. 1) The College Music Society directory for 1972-74 indicates that the majority of faculty positions at the five institutions in question are currently held by men with Master's only, and this presumably was also the case a few years ago during the different time spans of the various studies. 2) Traditionally a doctoral degree has not been a necessary qualification for a college teaching position, particularly in performance and composition—a conclusion substantiated by information on degrees held that is included in the CMS directory. 3) Many people hired with Master's degrees plan to and do continue working towards the Doctorate. Also, it would be pertinent here to investigate the career paths of men with recently earned Master's degrees.

4The question of determining availability in accordance with guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is discussed in the CUNY report pp. 163-71.

5We did not have access to statistics that would have enabled us to determine national availability pools for the various years covered by the various studies (let alone statistics concerning local availability pools). In this connection the national female availability pool of 43% calculated by the CUNY investigators on the basis of the total number of women who were awarded advanced degrees in music in 1969-70 is instructive, as it approximates the percentages presented in Table 1 of Master's and doctoral degrees conferred to women in that academic year, namely, 47.4% and 14.7% respectively. This suggests that the percentages for other years given in Table 1 reflect on the national availability factor, and furthermore that since 1967-68 the national availability pool of women with advanced degrees in music has been about 40% and increasing steadily.

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