Gender stereotypes in music: Challenges and obstacles encountered by women in male-dominated musical environments

Κωνσταντίνα Βασίλογλου

Προφορική Ανακοίνωση

Session Ταυτότητες και ετερότητες και μουσική εκπαίδευση ( Saturday, 16-Apr-22 10:30:00 EEST )

       This study examines the challenges and obstacles faced by female musicians who are active in unconventional gendered musical spaces. The research is based on the point of view of Critical Theory, where the purpose of science is considered to be the emancipation of individuals and groups towards a more equal society, and the realization of social change (Regelski, 2005). The aim is to highlight the female aspect of gender inequality in the music sector in a patriarchal society where gender stereotypes benefit the male success and limit the female musical choices and creating great inequality in the music space (De Boise, 2017). Women throughout the centuries of music, in addition to lacking opportunities, education and experience, were still spouses, mothers and housewives, performing gender roles that made it difficult for them to engage in music (Brummel, 2015).
        Seven women, 2 female composers, 2 female conductors and 3 female instrumentalists (fagotto, bouzouki and lute), through semi-structured interviews, shared the challenges and obstacles they encountered in their musical careers, because of their gender. The obstacles were related to their social and musical environment encountering sexist attitudes, devaluation, rejection, and even sexual violence from men in their musical environment. Women often faced different expectations and criteria in relation to their evaluation and many times their abilities were judged in relation to their gender. That is, instead of the way they practice their profession, the focus is more on the fact that they are women. Thus, their musical value must surpass that of men, in order to justify any success (Bartleet, 2008).In this study, the relationship of the participants against power issues is also explored, as most of the positions of power in musical environments are held by men. In addition, sexual harassment is embedded in the power relations of women's daily lives in music. It is a given that women will not speak because they are out of power, which contributes to the perpetuation of sexual harassment incidents (Lamb, 1993). 
       Finally, the role that music educators and family were noted on the battle against gender stereotypes in music inspiring and supporting respectively the musical choices of their students and children. For the fighting of the stereotypes, the importance of the role of women musicians was also highlighted, as they can serve as role models and stimulate other women. The research was conducted within the framework of a postgraduate program which was completed in 2021.

  • Ζητήματα αναπαραστάσεων και ιδεολογιών στη μουσική εκπαίδευση (φυλή, φύλο, γλώσσα, τάξη, κουλτούρα κ.ά.)
  • Μουσική αγωγή, κοινωνική δικαιοσύνη και ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα
Keywords gender stereotypes, gender inequality, female musicians, male dominance
Language Ελληνική
Author(s) CV

Konstantina Vasiloglou, was born and raised in Athens, with family origins from Mesotopos, Lesvos. She studied the classical piano for years, and then taught traditional santouri with Stavroula Spanou, as well as traditional and rebetiko singing with Maria Koti. She graduated from the Department of Preschool Education of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and completed her master studies in the postgraduate program "Music Education in formal and informal enviroments", of the Department of Music Studies in National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Her academic interests are gender stereotypes in music as well as social and gender inequality. She works as a music teacher in Athens.