Lawsuit by Boston Symphony principal flute raises issue of compensation for men and women

Posted on: December 11, 2018

At the Boston Symphony Orchestra, “Principal flutist Elizabeth Rowe sits next to principal oboist John Ferrillo. She’s paid $64,451 less than him a year,” writes Geoff Edgers in Tuesday’s (12/11) Washington Post. Rowe joined the orchestra as principal flute fourteen years ago, following blind auditions. “In July, Rowe, 44, filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the BSO seeking $200,000 in back pay. Her lawsuit came after years of appealing privately to management about the roughly $70,000 less a year she is paid than John Ferrillo, 63, the orchestra’s principal oboist. Rowe contends that she should make an equal salary and that she doesn’t because of her gender. The BSO, in a statement, defended its pay structure, saying that the flute and oboe are not comparable because, in part, the oboe is more difficult to play and there is a larger pool of flutists. Gender, the statement says, ‘is not one of the factors in the compensation process at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.’ This week, Rowe will enter mediation with the BSO aimed at resolving the conflict before it goes to court…. Her lawsuit will be the first against an orchestra to test Massachusetts’ new equal-pay law, its outcome potentially affecting women across the U.S. workforce who are paid less than their male colleagues.”

Posted December 11, 2018

In photo: The Boston Symphony Orchestra, with Principal Flute Elizabeth Rowe at center.