Project Spectrum is a coalition of graduate students and faculty members devoted to the issue of diversity in music theory, musicology, and ethnomusicology. They were the organizers of the symposium Diversifying Music Academia: Strengthening the Pipeline (31 October–1 November 2018), an event that explored why many people marginalized by their race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, and/or class continue to have difficulty in finishing graduate degrees, attaining gainful employment, and receiving tenure within all fields of music studies. Today, they continue their efforts to develop concrete tools to inspire systematic change within these fields.
The most recent membership demographics of the American Musicological Society and Society for Music Theory indicate that the organizations remain between 85 and 90% white. What’s more, covert and overt racism and sexism can be observed in quotidian interactions in music departments, in musicological publications, and on the music studies jobs wiki. Too often, when this reality is articulated, people in positions of power insist that the problem is in the pipeline and suggest that the solution must come from women, the economically disadvantaged, and people of color scholars themselves. By contrast, Project Spectrum contends that in order to adequately address music studies’ diversity problem, we, as current and aspiring music scholars, must take a collaborative and coalitional approach.
As evidence of identity-based discrimination in all aspects of North American life continues to mount up, music scholarship should seek to be a part of the solution. Project Spectrum works toward this goal by offering mentoring and workshops to support underrepresented scholars, fostering relationships among a coalition of scholars dedicated to broad diversity in our field, amplifying the voices of those music scholars working toward diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in academic life, and sparking discussions that lead to long-term solutions within music studies. By facilitating these conversations, we hope to present the repair of our “leaky” pipeline as a necessarily collaborative effort and generate strategies for sustaining these efforts. Conversations about race, ethnicity, and intersectionality are most effective when both underrepresented and majority members of our various Societies are in dialogue; Project Spectrum aims to create spaces in which we can bridge this gap and cultivate the strategies necessary to achieve our goals.