Behavioural Design in Action
As late as 1970, only five per cent of musicians performing in the top five U.S. orchestras were women. Today, women compose more than 35 per cent of the most acclaimed orchestras. This did not happen by chance. Rather, it required the introduction of ‘blind auditions’. The Boston Symphony Orchestra was the first to ask musicians to audition behind a screen, and in the 1970s and 80s, most other major orchestras followed suit. When they did so, usually in preliminary rounds, it raised the likelihood that a female musician would advance by 50 per cent and substantially increased the proportion of women hired.
To make this change, no great technological feat was required—just awareness, a curtain and an innovative decision. More precisely, a design decision: A simple curtain doubled the talent pool, creating amazing music and transforming what orchestras look like.