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Female Top Flutist Files Sex Discrimination Claim Against Orchestra

Elizabeth Rowe is the principal flutist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). She has claimed that she is the victim of gender bias because the principal male oboist is paid more than her for comparable work.
According to the lawsuit, the oboist is paid about $70,000 more than Ms. Rowe per year. She also has stated that she has been featured as a “star performer and the face of the BSO.” She had asked the orchestra to pay her more money over the last couple of years to reach parity with the oboist but BSO refused. Under a newly enacted Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, employers are prohibited from paying lower wages to employees of different genders who perform comparable work. Similar statutes are in effect in other states. The law also precludes using salary history as justification for unequal pay.
BSO has asserted that gender is not the reason for the pay differential. “Compensation policies for principal musicians are complex and by nature allow for many variables.” One of those variables, according to the orchestra, is said to be the increased difficulty of playing the oboe and the smaller pool of talent. A CBS news report stated that orchestras generally give increased pay to principal players and the size of the talent pool is irrelevant. Ms. Rowe pointed to the other male principals, all of whom earn more than she does for playing. It is believed the parties have entered mediation and are trying to resolve the matter.