Patriarchal killjoys: the experiences of three (women) university band directors
Foley, Megan Jennifer
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According to the 2011 College Music Society directory, 9% of university band directors in the United States are women. Band directing in higher music education remains dominated by men. In a career field traditionally occupied by men, women have anecdotally reported a variety of experiences with gender as they sought to be considered competent or worthy enough to fulfill what is sometimes presumed to be a male role. The purpose of this study was to understand the ways three women have experienced gender within the culture of band directing while identifying as women, university-level band directors. Of prime interest was the process of how (and if) verifications and agreements were (or were not) made between these women, their students, and colleagues. This study was based on the theoretical platforms of gender theory, role theory, and identity theory, which, when combined, provided the foundation from which I was able to view, understand, and interpret the ways three women university band directors felt pressure to exist within a culture that demanded they “do” and “undo” gender within the role of band director. Via interview and observation within a qualitative, multiple case study format, it became clear that women who wish to become university band directors face a variety of obstacles, most having to do with gendered expectations of the role of band director. Findings indicate that the participants’ experiences of gender were more complex than initially expected. The participants’ understanding of the expectations related to the role of band director were easier to negotiate than the identities they sometimes struggled to name. Participants engaged in a variety of types of negotiation, including the use of gendered attributes, humor, and confidence, which when viewed as a whole, suggest that these women engaged in behaviors that represent what Ahmed (2014) terms as willfulness, a component necessary for each to attain their positions as university band directors. Although participants engaged in such willfulness, each was compelled to acquiesce to the patriarchal rules that continue to govern the role of band director and conductor.