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Abstract

Despite gender affirmative employment practices, women constitute little more than 5% of all U.S. college band directors. Researchers have investigated this situation in terms of historical precedent, traditional socialization, discrimination, segregation, professional identity, and lack of role models. They have not, however, addressed the culture of conducting college bands. Cultural analysis is essential because the percentage of women conducting college bands in the U.S. has remained virtually static during the past thirty years. It is appropriate because it provides a multi-layered, broader view of the problem which make possible explanations that may be more appropriately generalized and less subject to essentialism. This project analyzes the paucity of women college band directors in terms of the cultural contexts in which they inhabit: the cultures of music, performance, and college bands. Reviewing and interpreting the literature related to these cultures, I use a perspective that takes into account the positionalities of individuals while also locating them in cultural and by implication, historical, contexts. Analysis (reading) creates a narrative in which I foreground what challenges dominant discourse in these cultures, and describe how they function in terms of women college band directors.

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