This project exposes the stark gender disparity in orchestras around the world by simply but effectively annotating photographs of various orchestras. It also allows readers to customize an interactive graphic to view gender breakdowns orchestra section by orchestra section.
What makes this project innovative?
Worth noting with this piece is the significant data collection effort that was needed to execute this story. Amanda and Oliver scoured dozens of orchestra websites to compile a database of all of the musicians in these orchestras.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
We measured success of this project by the responses of the music community.
Source and methodology
We examined the instruments played by the musicians of the world’s 20 greatest orchestras, as ranked by the UK’s Gramophone magazine, to understand how gender shapes their composition. Where we could, we looked at the individual musician pages to determine each musician’s gender, and excluded one orchestra that didn’t list individual musicians: The Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan. When musicians didn’t have their own pages, we searched for their images. If we had only a name, we determined if the name was more likely to be male or female. (We weren’t able to account for non-binary gendered people.)
Oliver Staley, Amanda Shendruk