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

Claudia Goldin, Cecilia Rouse

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Sex-biased hiring has been alleged for many occupations but is extremely difficult to prove. A change in the way symphony orchestras recruit musicians provides an unusual way to test for sex-biased hiring. In blind auditions a screen is used to hide the identity of the player from the committee. The semifinal round, added as the number of applicants grew, may be blind. Finals are rarely blind and almost always involve the attendance and input of the music director. The impact of the screen is positive and large in magnitude, but only when there is no semifinal round. Women are about 5 percentage points more likely to be hired than are men in a completely blind audition, although the effect is not statistically significant. As in research in economics and other fields on double-blind refereeing, the impact of a blind procedure is toward impartiality and the costs to the journal are relatively small.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInequality in the 21st Century
Subtitle of host publicationA Reader
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780429968372
ISBN (Print)9780429499821
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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