An examination of gender trends and sexism among university composition faculty: conversations with female composition professors
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Over the past few decades, there has been an exponential increase of females holding professional positions traditionally assigned to males. While female professors of music have become more commonplace over the past few decades, there continues to be a recognizable absence of women in the field of music composition. Additionally, publication and performance of music composed by women is minimal in comparison to their male counterparts. The purpose of this study was to examine the current employment practices of U.S. universities with leading music programs to ascertain if gender inequity was evident. Further, I sought to determine what social barriers cisgender female professors faced when pursuing a degree in composition and what restrictions they have faced as professional composers. Finally, I ascertained what initiatives are in place to encourage women to pursue careers in music composition. Cisgender music composition professors at leading music programs in the U.S. (N=14) were interviewed, and the conversations were recorded, transcribed, and coded to expose common themes. Although participants indicated the road to professorship was not significantly affected by gender, they reported encountering pro-male prejudice when seeking to publish, produce, program, and distribute their musical works. The interviews also revealed that issues surrounding motherhood and ageism led to restrictions in their advancement in academia. Further research focusing on causes of continued marginalization of musical works by females and university employment practices surrounding the hiring of female composition professors could provide a broader view of the political and social issues that affect women composers’ careers today.