Flutist Elizabeth Rowe, who filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the Boston Symphony Orchestra seeking $200,000 in back pay, settled with the BSO last week, both parties have announced.
The terms are confidential, though “all those involved in the process are satisfied with the result,” according to a statement from the orchestra.
In July, Rowe, 44, who has played principal flute in the orchestra since 2004, sued after years of privately protesting to management about the roughly $70,000 less a year she was paid than John Ferrillo, 63, the orchestra’s principal oboist. In her filing, Rowe contended that her gender was the reason she did not make an equal salary.
The BSO argued that the oboe was more difficult to play, that there is a larger pool of flutists and that gender “is not one of the factors in the compensation process at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.” A Washington Post examination of salary structures throughout the orchestra world, spurred by Rowe’s lawsuit, found that although women make up nearly 40 percent of the country’s top orchestras, when it comes to the principal, or titled, slots, 240 of 305 — or 79 percent — are men. The gap is even greater in the “big five” — the orchestras in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and New York. Women occupy just 12 of 73 principal positions in those orchestras.
There is a direct link between principal positions and pay, the Post examination found. Of the 78 “big five” musicians whose salaries are large enough that they must be reported in the orchestras’ tax filings, only 14 are women.
Rowe, speaking to The Post last year in her lone public comments about the dispute, said she came to the BSO eager to resolve it positively.
“There has not been a lot of good press in our industry recently around women and the treatment of women,” she said, “and I genuinely saw this as a really great opportunity for the orchestra to have something positive to stand for.”
But the BSO’s silence to a proposal she had made in March was “devastating.”
She added that she was still hoping for a resolution that would please both parties.
“I love the Boston Symphony. It is my artistic home,” Rowe said. “It’s where I want to be.”