Claire Gibault leads the Paris Mozart Orchestra in the Ukrainian national anthem during the 2022 La Maestra competition at the Philharmonie de Paris, March 2022. Photo by Maria Mosconi/Hans Lucas.

“Until recently, conducting was almost exclusively a male profession,” writes Farah Nayeri in Tuesday’s (3/7) New York Times. “The French conductor Claire Gibault has spent a lifetime battling that gender barrier. In 2019, she co-founded La Maestra, a biennial international competition for female conductors in Paris that draws more than 200 contestants from some 50 countries…. The next competition [is] in March 2024. The competition, founded with the Philharmonie de Paris, awards [cash] prizes … to finalists who are provided numerous musical opportunities, too. Ms. Gibault also founded the Paris Mozart Orchestra in 2011, one of France’s few female-led orchestras…. She [made] classical music history by becoming the first woman to conduct a performance at La Scala in Milan … She also was the first woman to conduct the musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra…. “In 2018, I was the only female jury member of a conducting competition in Mexico. There were such sexist attitudes on the part of certain jurors … One man on the jury even said that women were biologically incapable of being conductors … [A friend] encouraged me to set up a prestigious competition for female conductors … The impact has been extraordinary. Female conductors are now viewed as a very modern phenomenon.”