On March 8 each year, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, observed since the early 1900s. Nearly 30 countries declare the day to be a national holiday while the United States has named March to be Women’s History Month.
International Women’s Day raises awareness about the continued inequalities that woman face around the world as well as applauds the advancements of women in politics, business and social life. However, even today, women still do not receive equal pay and represent only 4.2 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.
In music education, less than 10 percent of college band directors are women, a figure that has not changed significantly in three decades, according to a 2005 study. The high school ratio probably isn’t too much better.
Women with all types of careers must make difficult decisions regarding work-life balance. Though stay-at-home dads have certainly increased in number, many women still bear the brunt of housework and childcare—sometimes by necessity and sometimes by choice.
However, women who instruct marching bands have the added complexities of work interfering with personal life due to evening rehearsals, football games and weekend competitions—not to mention hours of potential travel. I have met several female directors who have either consciously chosen to forego parenthood or decided to give up directing to spend more time with their spouse and/or children.
I can certainly relate to the choices being made by these female leaders. I was the only woman in my business school class with a child. Because of my family, I made decisions to skip certain social gatherings, participate in fewer clubs and even interview for fewer jobs. Yet a career was—and continues to be—very important to me.
Since graduating six years ago, I have seen many of my classmates giving up thriving careers to become stay-at-home moms. What I have learned through this process is that we make these choices with eyes and hearts wide open.
Despite the odds, female band directors have made names for themselves in a male-dominated world. In the article “Wonder Women,” Halftime Magazine profiles four influential female instructors— Dr. Mallory Thompson from Northwestern University, Rhonda Harper from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., Heidi Sarver from the University of Delaware and Tammy Ahmed from Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, Colo. What has made all of these women successful is passion—a passion for music, a passion for conducting and a passion for teaching. Read their stories and be inspired to know that you can do it, too.
Keep on Marching,
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief