Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of “Blind” Auditions on Female Musicians

By Claudia Goldin  and Cecilia Rouse

“Blind” auditions for symphony orchestras reduced sex-biased hiring and improved female musicians’ likelihood of advancing out of preliminary rounds, which often leads to tenured employment.

  • Using a screen to conceal candidates from the jury during preliminary auditions increased the likelihood that a female musician would advance to the next round by 11 percentage points. During the final round, “blind” auditions increased the likelihood of female musicians being selected by 30%.
  • According to analysis using roster data, the transition to blind auditions from 1970 to the 1990s can explain 30 percent of the increase in the proportion female among new hires and possibly 25 percent of the increase in the percentage female in the orchestras.
  • In short, “blind” auditions significantly reduced gender-biased hiring and the gender gap in symphony orchestra compositions.