Re: Numbers (was:Re: Osborne response - Cyberfeminism)


Subject: Re: Numbers (was:Re: Osborne response - Cyberfeminism)
From: Katharine Norman (katharine@novamara.com)
Date: Sat Jan 08 2005 - 11:54:14 EST


...some random thoughts concerning numbers in the digital realm...

many people who make e/a, computer music or whatever are outside
musical academia, or only tangentially connected to it. But ICMA,
SEAMUS and, to a lesser extent perhaps, CEC and SAN are still bastions
of academia and academic thought, run primarily by - and for -
academics. Actually I'm not decrying that, just pointing out that
perhaps statistics from elsewhere - and there are elsewheres - are
relevant too, or more so. If such isolated statistics are relevant,
that is....

But aren't all these e/a statistics symptomatic of wider concerns? -
and I agree with Keven that I'm not sure we can solve, or learn, much
by concentrating on one particular narrow bandwidth. There is a
prevalent theory that (in Western culture) young male high school
students, now feeling emasculated and threatened by the generally
higher academic achievement of their female peers, have "claimed"
technology as their territory, from which all those threatening gals
are excluded. In a way this exclusion is being 'encouraged' by teaching
methods targeted at boys that centre on technology, since
'underachieving' boys do better with this approach.

This would imply that a younger peer group may be creating its own
self-perpetuating prejudices and exclusions, perhaps without even
consciously acknowledging them, and that has fed a cultural shift in
terms of technology use/users. If true, that's sad for all concerned,
and for the future. I do see occasional overt evidence of this
deliberate exclusion on other more 'techy' lists I frequent; it seems
to be fear at some level.

I don't pretend to know a solution in specifically e/a class terms; I
guess it partly depends on changing the design and teaching philosophy
of courses, to make this implicit exclusion difficult to sustain, or to
want to sustain. But on the larger academic scale; institutions, and
the institutionalized, are historically more concerned with preserving
their own status quo than accepting the status of any challenging
minority (or external majority....) that ventures over the threshold.
(And there are many non-academic 'institutions' too, I realise).
Personally I tend to me more, or as, concerned about the aesthetic
rigidity in some institutions than with which gender is making the
sounds.

And cynically speaking, maybe some musicology which examines a minority
presence as such can be just another way of keeping it in its box, or
can have that inadvertent effect. So what will help? I don't know....In
my own book (ostensibly) on electronic music I tried to talk about men
as much as women, without making this concern for balance explicit on
the whole. But in the end I did want to explore why some voices are
still less heard, and choose to speak differently, so I wrote about
that too. I do observe that women working with sound as art are
certainly represented in theoretical and practical work coming from the
visual/fine arts field, and in 'aural culture' and other more
multi-disciplinary settings. Perhaps some doors open more easily (or,
dare I say, are sometimes more interesting to open).

On Jan 7, 2005, at 6:38 AM, Elizabeth Hinkle wrote:
> as is reviewed
> almost every year on this listserv and others: women's
> participating in electroacoustic music classes is still quite low.

My teaching experience in the UK just happens to be the opposite, but
not because of my presence necessarily (my male predecessor had roughly
the same class stats), simply because of the historically higher
proportion of women in a conventional UK music dept. I can think of few
talks I've given to many courses at other institutions that had a
predominantly male audience. Perhaps I hit lucky (or the blokes skived
off!).

all the best

Katharine

www.novamara.com

from the snowed in West Coast - the statistics told me it didn't snow
here, darn it.



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