Sex and Instrumentation Distribution in an International Cross-Section of Wind and Percussion Ensembles

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Publication Date

Winter 1-1-2005


This study reviewed whether sex-instrumentation distributions prevalent in US and English culture was due to a limited geographical representation of extant research. We gatherd data regarding sex and instrument selection from many diverse geographical regions. Data from a sample of 8146 community and youth band participants from 25 countries (170 ensembles) supports previous research. Gender bias permeating US and England instrumentation in wind and percussion ensembles appears not to be limited to these countries, but exists elsewhere around the world. In most countries, male participants outnumbered females. The data demonstrate that females overwhelmingly populated flute and clarinet sections. Oboe and bassoon were other instruments where females considerably outnumbered males. There was a sex imbalance across the totality of all ensembles, because males predominantly populated the remaining instruments (saxophone, trumpet, horn, trombone, euphonium, tuba, and percussion). It would seem that the more traditional roles of females and males (in terms of instrument selection) are borne out in many of ensembles from around the world. We recommend identifying several ensembles whose member rosters reflect the more traditional sexlinstrument matches, and those whose member rosters reflect more gender-neutral instrument matches to review possible influences for these differences.

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