Library Dissertation Showcase

Does gender restrict students’ experience and opportunities within music education?

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2020

The disproportionate involvement and credit between men and women within the popular music industry today is a timely issue in aid of further investigation. A recent article from The New York Times states an alarming statistic; “in an analysis of the top 600 songs from 2012 to 2017, the study found that of 1,239 performing artists, just 22.4% of them were women” (Sisario, 2018). Subsequent to this, just 12.3% of songwriters credited on those songs were women and 2% of producers were female across a subset of 300 songs within the same time frame (Sisario, 2018). These figures raise the issue that the opportunities for women within the popular music industry are seemingly restricted compared to men. Leading from this, this research paper aims to identify and investigate the ways in which gender restricts students’ opportunities and experiences throughout their music education. If students’ opportunity and experience is restricted because of their gender, this may be the underlying factor in the disproportionate, hegemonic nature of the popular music industry today. Influencing this specific research aim within the overall investigation of gender disproportions within the music industry, scholars examining the relationship between learning experiences and career aspiration found there to be a “strong role of self-efficacy for males and females when they choose occupations that are non-traditional for their gender” (Newmeyer et al, 2018, 292). With this in mind, gender associations within music education will be explored within this paper in relation to the restriction of students’ opportunities employed as a result of these. This research paper will focus on three main areas of interest; the gender associations of musical instruments, the identification and influence of role models within music education as well as whether music is considered a female pastime within educational settings. This paper will collate the findings and implications from previous literature and discuss these in relation to new data. This data will be collated from an online questionnaire carried out for this investigation focusing on individuals’ views on gender within music education through reflecting on their own educational experience. Structurally, this paper will begin by outlining the methodological instruments used to collate findings and data to successfully investigate the main research aims. The issues surrounding the gender associations of instruments will then be discussed, followed by whether music, as a subject, is seen as a female pastime within educational settings. The relationship between gender and role models within music education will then be explored before concluding this paper with further implications for research as well as how the findings can be used for practical application within the music classroom.

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