Having It All: Societal Expectations Shaping Female High School Band Directors' Decisions

April 25, 2017 / By: Victoria A. Tam-Anderson

Despite significant gains in many employment fields, a disparity still exists between the number of men and women teaching in the high school band classroom.  The purpose of this study was to explore how a female band director’s personal and professional decisions are influenced by the demands associated with teaching band, particularly at the high school level. Special attention was paid to whether the decision to have a family affected the grade levels in which women taught.

The study, a convergent mixed methods design, utilized both online survey data from female band directors from across the United States and one-on-one interviews with female band directors in Minnesota. Findings indicated that numerous characteristics of teaching specific grade levels influenced the type of position that women wanted. These characteristics included: musical experiences, the students being taught, and the extra activities associated with high school teaching positions. 

All of the interview participants agreed with the idea that there are fewer women teaching high school band due to the challenges of balancing the dual roles of mother and high school band director. Directors expressed concern about maintaining a quality high school band program while also being able to spend enough time with their children and family.  Many self-selected out of teaching high school band to better balance life.  Regardless of grade level taught, female band directors felt many supports were needed to be both a successful mother and band director.