Perceptions of musicians: gender stereotyping of instruments in international schools in Japan
Stonebarger, Phillip Eugene
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In this study, I examined gender associations of instruments in five international schools in Japan, judgments that student musicians made about other musicians based on perceived social roles, and how those judgments might have been influenced by the participants’ age, gender, nationality, and school type attended. Using social role theory as a framework, I sought to understand how model musicians were perceived as having agentic (masculine), communal (feminine), and gender-neutral qualities based upon the model’s gender and instrument played. Band students at the international schools (N = 491) served as participants in this study, completing surveys that helped to answer (a) the extent to which gender stereotyping of instruments existed in participating schools, (b) the judgments that participants made about model musicians, and (c) how those judgments were influenced by participants’ demographic differences. Data indicated that gender associations of instruments in participating schools was not as prevalent as has been seen in earlier studies conducted in the U.S. and the U.K. (Fortney, Boyle, & DeCarbo, 1993; Hallam, Rogers, & Creech, 2008; Wrape, Dittloff, & Callahan, 2014). The findings for this study indicated that the flute was played by a high percentage of female participants, and the trombone was played by a high percentage of male participants. The alto saxophone and the trumpet were played by more male than female participants, while the clarinet and percussion were played nearly equally by male and female participants. Responding to Likert-type questions, participants rated model musicians on three agentic qualities, three communal qualities, and three gender-neutral qualities. MANOVA was used to examine differences in participants’ perceptions of musicians. Participants scored female musicians significantly higher than male musicians in perceptions of leadership, caring, friendliness, comfort, and happiness. Males scored significantly higher in activity. There was little difference between males and females in scores of strength, success, and sensitivity. Instrument played by the model musician, however, seemed to have less impact on participants’ judgments. Flute players scored significantly higher than other musicians on measures of comfort and happiness. Snare drummers scored significantly lower than flutists and trombonists on measures of success. I further analyzed data to determine how specific demographic variations in participants contributed to differences in perceptions of musicians. I found some significant differences for each characteristic based on the participants’ gender, nationality, and school grade level. By examining interactions among variables, I discovered additional significant differences in perceptions of musicians by participants.