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Old 14th November 2020
Here for the gear

The gender disparity

I believe we are socially conditioned from the day we are born with gender associations and they come to light and are discussed when we recognise the impact they have on our lives, or we may even discuss incidentally just as observations.

Take for example gender association with musical instruments. Boys learn the drums and girls learn the flute! Of course I realise this is a generalisation and it doesn't always work out this way, but these instrument gender associations are active and real.

Consider my school choir. It has one boy and forty something girls. When I do a talent quest, the girls audition in dance and singing, very rarely the boys.

Gender associations are everywhere within music, through people practising them, repeating them, insisting on them, being oblivious to them, exploiting opportunity through them, being conventional through them etc. One could argue there are some valid reasons at times. Drum bits can be pretty heavy. Boys are stronger and lift easier than girls.

I believe there is a strong gender disparity in music production, tech and live sound. Some of these reasons are perhaps due to our tendency to visualise certain scenarios. For example, when we visualise a person fixing a guitar lead with a soldering iron, I would argue most would conceptualise a male taking on this task rather than a female.

With my particular experiences, I would suggest that being female didn't help me to secure music tech roles, however there were also other factors at play. For example, I did my music production degree right at the time the industry was transitioning from analogue to digital technology. Recording studios shut down everywhere as affordable computers and digital tech rendered them unnecessary. Bands and artists were starting to produce their own music at home and didn't need to hire studios for their recordings.

The Internet was also simultaneously finding its wings at the time, which of course entirely changed things. I didn't really understand how what was happening at the time was imparting an influence over my career choices, but looking back now... the picture is much clearer.

I would argue that gender associations and gender disparity has contributed positively toward my current situation in the long run. As a music teacher, I believe I probably earn more money now than if I was in music tech. I get great holidays, my life works perfectly around family, I have job security during COVID 19 and I don't have to deal with drug and alcohol issues sometimes associated with people in the industry.

A side note....male teachers are scarce in elementary schools everywhere in my country. There are gender imbalances almost everywhere. I don't talk about it much or fly the flag for it, however I also believe we shouldn't be ignorant about it either with our heads in the sand. We should acknowledge it, then educate our young so they have a chance to break down or at least work more successfully through social constructs.