Is playing the flute similar to playing the oboe? A Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) flutist believes so – at least as far as pay is concerned.
Daily Wire Senior Editor Ashe Schow appeared on Martha MacCallum’s Fox News program, “The Story,” Monday night to discuss the legal battle happening over Massachusetts’ new equal pay law, which flutist Elizabeth Rowe says requires the BSO to pay her at least as much as the orchestra’s prize oboist, John Ferrillo. MacCallum asked if Rowe had a case, to which Schow responded:
I don’t believe she has an argument. This is not a case of unequal pay for equal work. These are two very different instruments, the oboe — trying to find a principal oboist is a much more difficult process than finding a flutist. The Boston Symphony Orchestra pointed out that it’s a much more difficult process. John Ferrillo was lured away from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and promised to be paid twice as much as the rank-and-file members while Rowe went through the blind audition process.
MacCallum then asked if there were other examples within the orchestra of men and women receiving different pay, which of course there were, Schow said:
Absolutely. So, Ferrillo might be the highest paid principal in this orchestra, and there are four other principals –all men – who are paid more than Elizabeth Rowe and there are nine other principals including one woman, a harpist, who is paid less than Rowe. So, unless she’s trying to say that all principals should be [paid] the same, or that other instruments should be paid equally… If she’s trying to say the oboe and the flute are the same then should the clarinet player be paid the same, should the bassoonist? These are big questions.
MacCallum brought up a study that showed the average male orchestra member earns $254,000 a year while the average female member earns $202,000. As with all “wage” disputes, Schow noted that a variety of factors could be at play:
The Washington Post put one together and they found that 18% of the top earners in various symphonies are women. So, only 18%. What isn’t looked at is what instruments are making the most money. Perhaps women are flocking to the same instruments while men are taking over all of the others so that there is a huge pool of women vying for a small number of positions versus men who are applying for multiple instruments. This might be a supply and demand situation rather than a gender situation.
MacCallum then asked how this orchestra pay dispute fit into the larger issue of men and women earning different amounts in the broader workplace, to which Schow responded:
There are still situations, there’s still different factors that are going into why Elizabeth Rowe is paid less than John Ferrillo, and it has connotations outside of just the orchestra, in the main business world. Women make choices, in this case, deciding to play an instrument that a lot of other people also play versus Ferrillo choosing to play an instrument that not as many people play. We see that in the business world, where men go into more difficult, more dangerous, higher-paying jobs where women tend to do what they like which gravitates towards jobs that don’t need as much education and don’t command as high a salary.
MacCallum acknowledged that many women still feel that they are being paid less than a man, and asked if this meant there was no disparity based on gender. Schow said the examples are few and far between:
Absolutely not, but most of those disparities do come from factors such as hours worked, such as the jobs that you go into, such as taking time off to raise a child, or taking time out of the workforce to care for a child. These are all factors. But sometimes, sometimes, yes, a man and a woman may be paid unequally and it is unfair, but those are rare instances and very difficult to find in an actual case.
You can watch the full clip below: