Blind audition study: Truth or myth? | FACTUAL FEMINIST

The blind audition study is one of the
most celebrated social science papers of all time. It’s famous for showing that
when orchestras auditioned musicians blindly behind a screen, women’s success
rates soared. But it turns out, the study showed no such thing. What’s going on? That’s coming up
next on the Factual Feminst. During the 1970s and ’80s, the nation’s orchestras became more open and
democratic, and to ensure impartiality, several introduced blind auditions. Two
economists, Claudia Goldin of Harvard and Cecilia Rouse of Princeton, noticed that
women’s success rates increased along with the adoption of screens. Was that a
coincidence, or the result of the screens? That’s the question they tried to answer
in their 2000 paper “Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of Blind
Auditions on Female Musicians.” They collected four decades of audition
records and rosters from eight major orchestras and crunched the numbers. Now,
their paper includes multiple warnings about small sample sizes and
contradictory results — but few readers seem to have noticed. What caught
everyone’s attention were some strong claims in the final paragraph: “We find
the screen increases by 50% the probability that a woman will be
advanced from certain preliminary rounds.” According to Google, the study has
received 1,500 citations in academic articles and thousands of media mentions,
and showcased in so many diversity workshops that one recent attendee
begged never to hear about it again. Now, the study’s appeal is clear: two
prominent economists, in a top journal, wielding state-of-the-art econometrics,
captured and quantified gender bias — and they also documented a solution. Or so it
seemed. The research went uncriticized for nearly two decades. That changed recently
when a few scholars and data scientists went back and read the whole study. They found
a tangle of small, ambiguous, contradictory findings. For example, the
screen seemed to help women in preliminary audition rounds, but in the
semi-final rounds, they didn’t. And none of the findings were strong
enough to draw a broad conclusions one way or another. And the authors say as
much, albeit ambiguously throughout the paper. So where did Goldin and Rouse get their totemic conclusion that blind auditions
dramatically improved the success of women candidates?
Well, after warning that their findings were not statistically significant,
they simply declared them to be economically significant. But what does
that mean in this context? “That doesn’t mean anything at all,” says Columbia
University data scientist Andrew Gelman. In a recent commentary on the study, he
said that they’re just “fine words” that really mean that our data is “too noisy
to form any strong conclusions.” Now my guess is that the authors thought they
detected something with real-world relevance somewhere in all that
noise — but that’s a reason to call for more research, not to declare the
transformative power of screens in women’s quest for equality. Still some
may think it seems obvious that the screens contributed to equal hiring, but
it’s not. The screens may have been a reflection of changing attitudes — and it
was those attitudes, not the screens, that helped women. After all, women didn’t need
blind auditions to move ahead in law or business, medicine, or even in the
Cleveland Orchestra, which had not resorted to blind auditions, according to
the study. Now, Gelman and other critics — they don’t
deny the reality of gender bias and they don’t question the potential merits of
blind auditions as a means of achieving impartiality. But
Goldin and Rouse verified nothing about the special benefits for women, and nor
has anyone else. The subsequent research on blind
recruitment is just a morass of baseless claims or retracted statements,
contradictory findings… So how did such an equivocal study achieve iconic status?
Well, a lot of the credit goes to confused but influential fans, such as
the writer Malcom Gladwell and the Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji.
They saw the study as powerful, indisputable proof of the ubiquity of
gender bias, as well as a way to counter it. According to Gladwell, “Orchestras in
the 1980s started putting up screens in audition rooms and immediately —
immediately — orchestras started hiring women left and
right.” And here’s professor Banaji in a 2017 TEDx talk: “In the late 1970s,
American orchestras were almost entirely all male . . . Once the curtain dropped, the
case study shows that the number of women who were selected doubled — they
went up 50%.” But it didn’t show that. Truth matters. Overhyped claims create
confusion and undermine public trust, and they don’t solve problems. Sex
discrimination in the workplace is a serious matter,
but improvements require solid data, replicable research, and careful
evaluations of causation. As the scholar Alice Dreger says, “Carpe datum . . . Evidence
is an ethical issue.” If you found value in this video, please show your support by subscribing to the series, and follow me on Twitter, and listen to my podcast,
“The Femsplainers.” Thank you for watching the Factual Feminist. Wave goodbye, Izzie.


  1. batner

    October 31, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    I have something more damming. Fact is that these auditions are not blind and never were. Yes they are behind a curtain but the thing is that at these levels of musicianship, everyone knows exactly who is behind the curtain playing.

    It is a fact that morse code operators can identify each other by ear. Why is it hard for people to understand that an orchestral musician, who is playing since age 6, will be able to recognize another such musician playing a well known classical piece without looking?

    There is more bad news for the study, in orchestras it is customary for contenders to take several lessons from lead musicians of an orchestra before applying to a seat in the orchestra. Same lead musicians sit in audition commissions and decide who will get the seat. There is no way they don't know who os behind the curtain at any time.

    All of this is make-belief.

  2. Adrian White

    October 31, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    I'm sorry but what evidence is there showing any gender based workplace discrimination in the United States in the last 20 years? People say this without any supporting evidence like it is just a fact. It is undeniable that a person, regardless of their gender, can get any job they want today. And why are feminists so concerned with tech jobs and executive positions but they make no mention of the statistical gender gap in the garbage collection industry. Last I hear, something like 98% of garbage collection jobs were held by men. What about coal miners? Again the vast majority are men and feminists are silent about this dirty, difficult and often deadly job. Gender discrimination claims by the totalitarian-feminist machine have nothing to do with equal opportunity and everything to do with dominance.

  3. A Channel

    October 31, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Honestly, I do support blind auditions for orchestras, but not for gender reasons, strictly for the purpose of each orchestra finding the best musicians. Whether or not the amount of women goes up, I’d like to know that the musicians were chosen strictly because they can play their instruments well. I’m not sure this kind of screening process can be as easily implemented in other industries though.

  4. Red Pill Pharmacy

    October 31, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    Yet more "scientific" fraud. And this just scratches the surface of today's "scientific" fraud.

  5. Miatacrosser

    October 31, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    I always enjoyed your times on Dennis Prager's show. His Male/Female hour was always interesting and you were a large part of that.

  6. BIG M 3472

    October 31, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    sycobabbel bullshit! its true because i say so!i dont need proof!!!

  7. Nick Carroway

    November 1, 2019 at 12:25 am

    This woman better be careful. The libs will he baying for her blood.

  8. Angelina Lim

    November 1, 2019 at 1:22 am

    My violin teacher said she passed her orchestra audition because of her postures when she played violin. Even though she chose little bit easier music than others.

  9. Justin Malinowski

    November 1, 2019 at 3:39 am

    Omg. Thank you. I had always been stumped by that argument. No more 🙂

  10. AussieBlokeGordo

    November 1, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Women no longer need blind auditions…….Now they have gender hire quotas 😉

  11. Austin Martín Hernández

    November 1, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    It's like they actually want sexism to exist.

  12. mickie g

    November 1, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    "I won't do the research. Just tell me the parts that reinforce my narrative." – All leftists everywhere

  13. Americo Pedroni

    November 1, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Fascinating content, and using sound reason.

    Even still, as for me I am thankful I do not have to work with women. I'm sure I could learn something from them but that is a lot of work.

  14. Nicholas Ennos

    November 1, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Blind CVs favoured men.

  15. andyiswonderful

    November 2, 2019 at 1:40 am

    I love your scientific approach, being a scientist myself. Maybe social "scientists" need to take a few courses in statistics and data analysis.

  16. crgzero

    November 2, 2019 at 1:45 am

    Sex discrimination in the workplace IS a serious matter, unless it's happening to a white male, then you can go get fucked.

  17. John Keller

    November 2, 2019 at 4:24 am

    When you end a prohibition on hiring women, you suddenly see lots of women getting hired. But, when you eliminate bias in hiring, you end up hiring more men than women. Funny how that works out.

  18. Okiepita50 T-town

    November 2, 2019 at 5:13 am

    Just another example of far leftist Ivy League college propaganda.

  19. The fat Controller

    November 2, 2019 at 7:50 am

    I hope they introduce "screens" in ALL hiring environments, i think that I, a white male, would stand a BETTER chance of getting a job if people didn't know my race or gender.

  20. D3sToD3s

    November 2, 2019 at 9:30 am

    An increase by 50 percent doesn't double anything.

  21. Dan Senior

    November 2, 2019 at 11:57 am

    Social science is progressive activism. It's the NOT stem field of study for many who want a degree; without actually having to do work.

  22. Fer Br

    November 2, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Christina, thank you so much for your effort to find the truth about gender issues. You really contribute to create a better world both for men and women.

  23. Peter G

    November 2, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    I love the dog at the end, amazing.

  24. AJAY

    November 2, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    If further studies were conducted on orchestra make-up or lead musician selection (ex: lead trumpet, etc), an ethnic bias would certainly be discovered.

  25. Wendy Lee Connelly

    November 2, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    Good video. Good points. Adorable doggie! 8-D

  26. prschuster

    November 2, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    Another case of confusing correlation with causation. Changing attitudes about gender were not considered as a possible cause.

  27. The Antitheocrat

    November 2, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    Take a look at the ABC (Australia) and their reply to the failure of their experiment. The reply is the thing people should have questioned more.

  28. CxerRy96

    November 2, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    What I love about leftist studies is how they intentionally use the word "doubled" and "increased by X%" to make it sound grander than it is…

    For example, if the screens meant that the number of women doubled, and there were only (for the sake of example) 2 women who went through otherwise, that means there were now 4…that's a very circumstantial increase to link it to the blind audition…

    Also, if the number increased by 50%, and there was only 1 before, that means now there's only 1.5 on average…

    But when feminists speak about these findings they want to make you think that it actually means that men and women were now distributed equally at 50% each, but that's not the case at all…

    When making an argument, they rely on the "This has to sound logical if not looked into, so people don't bother to fact-check" sentences to make their point…

  29. Me And mine

    November 3, 2019 at 3:27 am

    Surprised German and other critics were not fired for their efforts.

  30. dragonhold4

    November 3, 2019 at 4:18 am

    (3:07) Still some may think it seems obvious that the screens contributed to equal hiring, but it's not. The screens may have been a reflection of changing attitudes — and it was those attitudes, not the screens, that helped women.
    > Correlation v. Causation strikes again…

  31. Seletar Roots

    November 3, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    Perhaps the word "science" may result in expectations too high for the "social sciences" to achieve? You could always remove the word "science" and replace it with a more open ended "knowledge" or just "studies". "Science" should be reserved for things that do not exhibit this type of weakness.

  32. Dan Patterson

    November 3, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    I think a lot of the confusion stems from the use of the word "equality" by those who seek to increase their privilege, rather than attain literal equality.

  33. Red Shark

    November 3, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    We once had a big dance. It rained the next day. Therefore, we hold a big dance every year so as to make it rain. That's as scientific as this crap.

  34. trying not to procrastinate

    November 3, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Not saying the study is legit but this videos 1 source is an article with no link to the actual study or hard specifics as to why it wasn't conducted well. So yeah…

  35. chan ngo

    November 3, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    Jews are shameless.

  36. Eric The Red

    November 4, 2019 at 2:23 am

    I read one of these studies had such a small sample size that the choice of one single woman dramatically altered the outcome. There is a reason we say there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Unethical people can report statistics so as to make them completely misleading. Feminists seem to really like to misrepresent data.

  37. G*man

    November 4, 2019 at 7:28 am

    men are vastly better musicians than women, genuinely off the charts better, almost all the truly great musicians are men, and all the great composers are men. all the great bands and guitarists are men. virtually all the great song writers are men. as a muso myself- ive found as a general rule women are pretty lousy musicians, with a majorly inferior ability to understand the science of music, of course there are exceptions / great female musicians, but so what?

  38. T Koch

    November 4, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    I remember somebody saying "Conductors don't like female musicians because they tend to do X" Is a bias really a bias if it is backed up by evidence? That is, if I hire ten women and nine of them steal from me, then is it bias if I decide not to hire any more women, or is it experience?

    Speaking of experience. One, I took place in an audition that was rigged (against me) and second, I took place in a blind audition (of two) but I was pretty sure that my band director could tell which was which.

  39. Michael Rose

    November 4, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    Christina: "Truth matters"

    Youtube: Video demonetized.

  40. John Doe

    November 4, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    I always suspected this study was bunk. Glad it's finally getting attention.
    Virtually all of the foundational 'studies' that the Left has repeated ad nauseam, whether this blind audition study, the so-called debunking of racial brain volume differences by Stephen J. Gould that was later proven to be bunk, the sociology of Margaret Mead that was found to be rife with lies & fraud, or the gender-theory gender-transition experiments on David & Brian Reimer by John Money that resulted in both young boys killing themselves … The Left has always been comfortable with lying in order to promote their ideology.

  41. Lifthil

    November 4, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    You should put Izzie in the thumbnail for more views. He (she?) is very cute!

  42. Mary Clark

    November 4, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    If they were so convinced they were right why skew the truth? Because they weren't right.

  43. Arroway2357

    November 5, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Proof positive that neither bestselling authors nor Ivy League social scientists are immune from confirmation bias.

  44. Alfred Thérien

    November 6, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    So glad to hear from you after such a long hiatus! I’m a musicologist who has for a long time been intrigued by this whole blind audition question, given the lack of sexism I’ve always observed in most musicians, and in the music world (both classical and jazz) in general. Since learning, in the past few years—from you, at first, then from my own research—about the excesses of Feminism, my confusion has only increased. The refreshing news you bring us in this clip is a welcome resolution to the tension, and I find myself once more in a state of ‘cognitive consonance’. Thank you. And I do hope you will continue to enlighten us on a regular basis.

  45. peace2014

    November 7, 2019 at 1:38 am

    When in doubt, make it up.

  46. Allen Clark

    November 7, 2019 at 2:40 am

    This happens more than people think. There are a lot of fake studies out there that are accepted as truth when in fact the data was manipulated to confirm what they wanted it to say. We are being led by unethical self proclaimed experts with only their own fame in mind.

  47. 7Plagues

    November 9, 2019 at 8:14 am

    For all the math whizzes complaining>>> If you double something, the increase is 50% of the new whole….. get a grip

  48. nunya bisnass

    November 9, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Wait wait wait…wait. she said in the ted talk, that female accrptance went up 50%. That if begining with any random number would be from 2 to 3, 5 to 7, 6 to 9, and so on. Thats not a dramatic increase at all. Its just hyping a number knowing many will misunderstand that to a 50% round estimate of the total acceptance such our of 20, thrre will now be 10 women and 10 men, while assumed it used to be a drastically different ratio such as 2 females to 18 males.

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