Girls at single-sex schools not bullied for playing ‘male’ musical instruments

07 October 2015

In a recently submitted University of Michigan PhD thesis, Jared Rawlings (now an Assistant Professor of Music at Stetson University in Florida) notes that a number of studies have demonstrated that adolescents playing musical instruments at co-educational schools can be victims of verbal aggression, bullying behaviours and harassment when there is a “stereotypical mismatch between biological sex and chosen musical instrument”. However, Rawlings notes that in one of the few studies to examine music instrument gender associations in girls’ schools, Sommer Buttu found that while girls enrolled at an all-girls school in Ontario, Canada, were aware of “culturally constructed gender stereotypes associated with musical instruments”, they “did not report feelings of chronic victimization”. As reported by the Ontario Education Research Exchange, Buttu’s research demonstrates that the girls in her study, being in an all-girl environment, did not feel the impact of gender stereotypes associated with certain instruments, but instead “tended to report that ‘girls can do anything’, especially in a safe and supportive environment“.