Gender and Electronic Music

By Hannah Bosma

Going to computer music conferences, lectures about electronic music or hi-fi shops etc., one learns that electronic music (1) is a man's world. One can react to this in different ways. Here, I will give a limited overview of some possibilities.

First of all, one can ignore the fact that most people in the world of electronic music are male, or at least one can try to do so. Considering the topics which are raised in conferences, books, journals etc., this is what most people do. But this is changing a little. Last year, for instance, the International Computer Music Conference encouraged to submit papers on women and computer music; and with the ICMC'96, this is again the case. But although there was a lively discussion about women and computer music at the ICMC'95, only three papers on this topic were actually presented. And in the programme of the ICMC'96, I can only find two papers on the issue of women and computer/electroacoustic music.

One can ask: why are there so few women in computer music? This is what Mary Simoni did in her paper at the ICMC '95. The question is related to questions like: why are there so few women working in the field of (specialized) technology? why are there so few women working with (the more specialized aspects of) computers? why are there so few women composers? The answers are complex. Simoni also gave suggestions for ways to get more women into computer music. Central here seems the ideal of equality between men and women.

(1) With 'electronic music', I also refer to electroacoustic and computer music and musique concrete.