Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Analysis of Percentage of Women in OSUMB

This is the result of my little research experiment yesterday. Thank you all for your information. I just submitted this as a letter to the editor of the Dispatch. They probably won't share it as it contains a well research argument, so I am sharing it here:
As a female alumnus of the Ohio State University marching band, I feel compelled to clear up some details after reading Collin Binkley’s article about the band on the front page of the Sunday paper. Over the past few days, several of my fellow alumni members have written wonderful letters to the Dispatch, President Drake and other news outlets. I am a very data driven person, so I have spent the last 48 hours gathering as much information as I can about two major issues I have with this article.
My first concern is Mr. Binkley’s point that women are rarely selected to be squad leaders in the marching band. As a four year member of the band, I spent 2 years serving as a squad leader, an assistant in 2004 and a head squad leader in 2005. Feeling concerned that perhaps my perception of the number of female squad leaders was skewed by the 8 years that have passed since I was in the band, I posted a request on the official TBDBITL Alumni Facebook page asking that anyone who had or was a female squad leader in the band let me know their name, their row and what years they served as squad leaders. Within ten hours, I had the names of 195 women who have served as squad leaders since women joined the band in 1973. And this list is still growing. In fact, my row has had a woman serve as an assistant or head squad leader, and for 4 years both, for every year except one since 2001. This number does not include the 51 women who have served as head managers, librarians and secretaries for the band starting as far back as 1947.
The other concern I have is the comment regarding the ratio between men and women in the OSUMB as opposed to other Big Ten bands. The author specifically mentioned our friendly band from that place up North, so I did some researching on my own. Using Michigan’s 2013 roster that is posted online, I discovered that when looking at the entire band, 42.44% is made up of women. This is not quite the equal makeup that Mr. Binkley implies, but it is close. However, if you take into account that the OSUMB is made up of only brass and percussion, the picture changes quite a bit. Only 22.15% of Michigan’s brass and percussion sections are made up of women. If we take away the woodwinds, flags and majorettes, something that OSU does not have, the percentage is actually LOWER than the 22.67% that represents the number of women in the 2013 OSUMB. Another Big Ten band, Penn State, has a similar issue. When looking at the Nittany Lion band only 22.22% of the brass and percussion sections are made up of women. Having a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from OSU, and having taught in a public school district for 4 years, I would love to believe that the stereotypes no longer exist that women play woodwinds and men play brass. And while ideas are changing, it is a fact that currently more men play brass and percussion instruments. To be honest, I’m okay with a band with a lower percentage of women, especially when an increase tends to mean the women are dressed in suggestive glittery attire, and twirl flags or dance provocatively on the field. I find those choices to be degrading to women.
I urge you to please look at the many stories being shared by the women alumni of the OSUMB. We were not abused or mistreated. In fact, the male members became our friends, teammates and brother-in-arms as we spent countless hours learning difficult drills and memorizing challenging songs. Rather than being sensitive and delicate girls, the women of the OSUMB, both past and present, are strong, confident and empowered members of society. And we owe much of that to what we learned and gained from the band. I am just as proud to be an alumnus of the OSUMB as I was after I marched my last game. And in my heart they have always been and will forever remain TBDBITL.
Jenna McCoy
E-Row 2002-2005
BME 2007

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