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Gender Quotas and Role Models to Increase Women’s Time in the Music Studio

In order to draw attention to female role models, EMS Elektronmusikstudion, which is the centre for Swedish electroacoustic music and sound-art and an independent part of the Swedish Performing Arts Agency, has arranged courses led by internationally renowned female composers and sound artists. They have also taken measures to ensure an equal gender distribution among the course participants.

The Swedish Performing Arts Agency is a government agency. Its mission is to promote a wide range musical offering throughout the country, and to preserve and bring to life theatre, dance and music heritage. This mission also includes funding collaborative projects aimed at development and strengthening the conditions for the independent professional music scene.

The Agency’s gender mainstreaming work is based on Sweden’s nationally declared gender equality aims that concern economic gender equality and equal distribution of power and influence between women and men. This implies that the Agency is to ensure gender equal allocation of grants. Another ambition is to show alternatives to the prevailing gender norm in various genres through the Agency’s website and exhibitions. Several projects have been launched as part of the Agency’s Gender Mainstreaming efforts, including the EMS Elektronmusikstudion.

Gender Quotas Challenged Male Dominance

For the first time ever, an almost perfect gender balance was achieved when EMS Elektronmusikstudion replaced its previous first-come, first-served model with a recruitment procedure based on gender quotas.

‘If artistic quality is a goal, it’s more effective to recruit participants from the entire population’

‘We arrange quite a few courses at EMS Elektronmusikstudion, and there has always been a clear male dominance among both instructors and participants. Whenever there is a clear norm for who the participants in an activity are, those who don’t fit in feel uncomfortable. Greater diversity and a more equal gender distribution among the participants make it easier for everybody to join. If artistic quality is a goal, it’s more effective to recruit participants from the entire population,’ says Mats Lindström, head of EMS Elektronmusikstudion.

Female Role Models are the Key

‘Role models are of tremendous importance if we are to change the male dominance in our genre. We recruited Savannah Agger, Hanna Hartman, Agnieszka Lewalski and Jenny Sunesson as instructors. It felt great to be able to get such big names to help us.

Increased Presence of Women in the Music Studio

From 2013 to 2015, the number of studio hours utilised by women increased by 7%.

‘At this point it’s our ambition to increase the number of studio hours used by women by 5% a year’

‘We want more female musicians to use our studios. We need to make it clear that we are for everybody. In 2014, 36% of the studio hours were used by women, which was a 2% increase from the year before. In 2015, the share was 41%. At this point, it’s our ambition to increase the number of studio hours used by women by 5% per year. We will also monitor the gender balance among the course participants and we are working continuously to recruit women when appointing new instructors. We have also continued to work with gender quotas to create well balanced course groups.’

Include Gender
Edited: 24 Oct 2016
Published: 6 Oct 2016
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