Hiding gender: How female composers manage gender identity

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Vocational Behavior


Elsevier Ltd


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)




Bennett, D., Hennekam, S., Macarthur, S., Hope, C., & Goh, T. (2019). Hiding gender: How female composers manage gender identity. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 113, 20-32. Available here.


The gendered nature of careers in music composition has attracted scholarly attention for some 25 years, but the strategies employed by female composers to manage their identity remain largely unaddressed. We report on a qualitative study in which we investigated the careers and identities of female art music composers. Phase 1 involved an in-depth survey, which attracted 225 responses. This was followed in Phase 2 by 27 semi-structured interviews. The data highlight the persistent marginalization of female composers, as a result of which the female gender is viewed as a career disadvantage. The intersection of gender and age is a contributing factor. To lessen the impact of their gender, women employed the passing tactics of concealment and fabrication. Many women repeated previously unsuccessful tactics because of the severity of the image discrepancy and the deficit of viable alternative strategies. Findings are discussed in relation to these tactics, which are usually associated as identity management techniques for invisible, rather than visible stigmatized identities.



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