Our last blog focused on exploring the reasons behind the lack of female musicians playing in live bands. You can read it here
We received some great feedback and usually we print a bunch of replies but guitarist Dylan Galvin wrote such a good one which summed up everything we tried to say, so here is his reply in it’s entirety:
I’ve been a professional musician since 2009 and I’ve worked with many males and females on many different projects. I don’t think there is evidence to suggest the low number of female musicians is due to sexism in the industry or men trying to keep them out. There are plenty of men who would probably prefer to work with females. However, it seems that when you allow men and women to freely choose career paths, they simply do not want to all do the same things at an exact 50/50 ratio.
I think although the title “musician” is not necessarily masculine or feminine, there are certain instruments that will lean towards having an appeal to men over women or women over men.
There are significantly more female harp players than male harp players in the music industry. I can assure you, there are no barriers preventing men from playing harp. There is no sexism keeping them from doing so. Most men just don’t want to. It is not an instrument that has a large appeal to most men.
Similarly, there are significantly more male guitar players than female guitar players. Men aren’t trying to strong arm women out of it and in fact if you follow a large number of male and female guitar players on instagram, you’ll see that generally the female profiles garner more attention on average, so there’s actually an advantage to being female and a guitar player, at least regarding social media. Men usually think it’s cool to see a skillful female guitar player, because it’s just not as common.
It’s possible there are some women who have left the industry due to sexism from men. But I don’t think there is enough evidence to say this is universal and systemic. I’m certain you can find evidence of individual cases, however sexism isn’t the only problem.
Nepotism, favoritism, emotional bias, political bias, personal bias and many other factors influence people to treat others unkindly and sometimes cruelly and this affects both men and women. You could find many of these cases as well and to only take note that discrimination happens due to sexism without all other variables that could be responsible would be misrepresenting reality. I have experienced unfair bias personally in the industry and it can be very discouraging. This is not a problem unique to men or women.
Being a gigging musician or working in many different areas of the music industry requires tremendous time sacrifices, sacrifice of relationships and often even family, and it’s possible that the requirements of the career dissuade many women who would be interested in having a family.
Also – every woman I’ve worked with – all have no children. I’m sure that the demanding and irregular nature of what a music career requires would generally be a point of contention for any woman or man who wanted to have children at some point. Almost every person I know in the industry is either single, or married with no children. Very few people who want families stay in music.
Psychologically men tend to be more interested in things and women are more interested in people (according to numerous studies, not just a speculation of mine) and this fact probably has an effect on the number of women who go into music as a full time career as well.
There was a study in Scandinavia that demonstrated if you set parameters to encourage gender equality, men and women are just going to choose different things because our innate biology causes us to function differently, desire different things and this is not a bad thing. The data shows that men and women do not want things at 50/50 gender ratios even when the stage is set to prevent gender inequality. These are just indicators of the wonderful and unique differences men and women have!