British Journal of Music Education

Research Article

A perennial problem in gendered participation in music: what's happening to the boys?

Scott D. Harrisona1

a1 Griffith University, PO Box 3428, South Brisbane 4101, Australia [email protected]


Despite three decades of research, gendered participation in music continues to be problematic. While many aspects of Western society maintain a patriarchal stance in the workplace, it is apparent that girls have made some significant changes in their musical choices. Males, it seems, are maintaining the same preferences for instruments as they did 100 years ago, avoiding ‘gentler pursuits’ like singing and playing the flute. This paper seeks to investigate the continued existence of stereotyping of musical participation and to discover some of the underlying reasons for this in the musical choices for boys through the literature. Furthermore, themes arising from existing research are investigated through fieldwork recently conducted in Australia.