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More Musician Gender

February 13th, 2018
gender, contra, music  [html]
Rebecca Bosworth-Clemens recently wrote some about the gendered booking dynamics she's seen, where at the dance weekends and festivals she's played at there tend to be many more male musicians than female ones. I was curious how this looked for our twice-monthly dance, so I looked over the musicians BIDA has booked since its first dance in 2009 [1].

(I'm writing this on an airplane without wifi, so I couldn't look up genders for people. I've gone by gender presentation when I remember the person, and name when I don't. Apologies to anyone I've misgendered! I'm happy to make edits. The raw data is here, and that includes how I categorized people.)

Overall, it looks like we've booked men 305 times (105 people), women 213 times (63 people), and non-binary people 4 times (1 person). For the rest of this post I'm just going to look at men and women.

Since we don't book individuals, we book groups of people, so here's what this looks like in terms of bands:

You can see our most common compositions are WMM (33), WM (26), and WWM (21).

We can also look at how often individuals are booked: are we booking the same people over and over, or lots of people a few times each? Mostly we're doing both:

The two people we've booked the most are both female, however, and the mean number of times we book a female musician has been 3.2, vs 2.8 for male musicians. Another way to look at this is that our musicians are 41% female on a per-gig basis vs 37% female on a per-person basis.

There are a few ways that this isn't an ideal sample, mostly that it's all from one dance (and one musician booker). BIDA's goals in booking also aren't typical: we're trying to build talent, and so generally book less established bands than we could be booking. Still, I think it's helpful to get this out there, and I'd love to see similar numbers for other dances!


[1] I skipped open band leaders because this seems like a different sort of category. We booked women 22 times (7 people) and men 4 times (3 people). Most of this is 16 bookings of two women [2] who we were booking to lead almost all our open bands for the first few years. If you exclude them, then we booked women 6 times (5 people) and men 4 times (3 people).

[2] This is somewhat confusing because one of the women we've booked to lead open bands the most was male-presenting at the time we booked her. Depending on what you want to use this data for, grouping her in with the gender the dance organizers were interpreting her as at the time could make sense, or grouping her with her actual gender. I've decided to do the latter here, but if you wanted to run the numbers the other way you could look at the raw data.

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