Women in Marching Arts

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2019 July August Publisher's Letter

For centuries, women have needed to fight for equal rights, equal pay, and equal opportunity. Though Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869, women didn’t win the right to vote until 1920. While The Equal Pay Act passed in 1963, many women today still don’t receive the same wages as men on practical fronts, most recently highlighted by the gender discrimination lawsuit by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team against the U.S. Soccer organization.

The music industry—from professional to amateur—continues to be a field that sees many gender discrepancies. Only 21.8 percent of top Billboard Hot 100 songs from 2012 to 2018 were sung by women, according to a report by the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

In the marching arts, women do not typically stand at center stage or on top of the podium. According to a 2015 study by MTD Research, 79.45 percent of high school band directors are men. In drum corps, the difference is just as striking, with less than a handful of women leading the 23 World Class groups in Drum Corps International (DCI) as executive directors or corps directors.

As far as student membership, many colleges only allowed women to join marching band starting in 1972 with the passage of Title IX. And several Division I universities have just recently named their first female drum majors. Furthermore, only one-third of members in drum corps today are female, according to DCI.

In general, we hope that the tide will soon turn. This issue celebrates women and the pioneers who hold key positions in the marching arts.

Kudos, for example, to India Anderson, the first female drum major for the USC Trojan Marching Band.

We give “A Shout-Out to Women in Corps” by featuring four influential female leaders. Among these leaders is Kathy Black, current DCI Chairperson, who says that she will strive to help women “feel good” about what they do in the activity.

We also interview Vicki Ferrence Ray, the new executive director at Youth Education in the Arts!, along with Scott Litzenberg, director of The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, as the organization celebrates the corps’ 85th anniversary along with its 50th anniversary of allowing women in the group.

We hope that these individuals serve as inspiration for us to continue breaking barriers.

Keep on Marching,
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

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