Robyn M. Olichwier Lawrence
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Date of Graduation
Master of Music (MM)
School of Music
The purpose of this study was to examine the introspections of female band directors, and their perceived beliefs about the effect of sex, gender, and race on their own personal career experiences and professional practices. Participants (N=82) were all current members of Women Band Directors International. After contact through the organization’s website, participants were invited to complete an online survey that consisted of 39 multiple choice, Likert-scale based questions. An optional short answer question was included in the survey (totaling 40 questions), to offer participants the opportunity to share information about personal experiences if they felt comfortable.
Important findings from the current study, were that the majority of participants (80%) had experienced feelings of underestimation during their careers, and 80.21% had perceived that band director colleagues may have had mistaken beliefs or ideas about them and their capabilities as professionals. Over half of participants (60.49%) reported having experienced feelings of being unqualified and/or imposter syndrome during their work as a band director due to gender, 81.48% believed they had been spoken to differently in comparison with male band directors colleagues, and 92.59% reported feeling they had to prove themselves more than male colleagues in order to be taken seriously. Forty-seven percent of participants responded that they perceived their sex was never an advantage in working with male colleagues. The majority of participants (67.9%) reported they felt their gender was not represented well within the band community, and 83.95% felt there was and continues to be an overall gender gap within band director profession. Results highlight need for professional organizations, teacher training programs, and school districts to create working environments where female band directors can have more positive experiences and support. One way to do this is to increase the number of female mentors. Additionally, data displayed an imbalance of race representation within band director profession, due to majority of participants and their mentors being White. More races could be successful as band directors, if a greater percentage of mentors represented non-White population in professional organizations and teacher training programs, and school districts worked harder to recruit/retain band directors of color.
Lawrence, Robyn M. and Lawrence, Robyn Olichwier, "Reflections of female band directors: The perceived effect of sex, gender, and race on career experiences and professional practices" (2020). Masters Theses, 2020-current. 68.