Stereotypes restrain female drummers

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Drumsticks in hand, I climbed the lumber pile that my family used for our woodstove, duct-taped a stick to the bottom of my right foot, sat down and beat the pieces of wood around me.

I was eight 8 years old, and I just wanted to play drums. It was fun and felt natural.

Many other girls have the same desire but do not pursue careers in percussion and drumming.

Women make up only 26.9 percent of professional musicians, singers and related workers, according to a 2013 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal government’s fact-finding agency that deals with labor economics and statistics.

Men hold the lion’s share of power in other occupations, too.

Women rarely claim high-level positions in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, according to a 2013 report by the Center for Research in Gender Professions at University of California, San Diego. The Center researches gender inequality in professional and business careers.

Ninety-one percent of registered nurses are women, but only 34 percent are physicians, according to the report. Twenty-one percent of scientists are women. While women make up 34 percent of law associates, they are only 15 percent of partners, meaning they receive 50 percent or more of their compensation as equity, according to the report.

Like women in such male-dominated careers, female drummers are still widely unacknowledged by music media.

Not a single woman is featured in Modern Drummer Magazine’s 2014 “The 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time.” The magazine, which is available in 67 countries, is a monthly publication founded in 1977 in New Jersey. Women hold two of the 200 spots in the “Best Drummers of All Time” list by Rankers, a crowd-sourced web platform where people rank and vote on nearly every topic. The disparity is probably so great because Ranker has a separate list for female drummers.

Similarly, you will not find a woman on the list of the 200 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. But there is a Famous Female Guitarist list.

That kind of gender separation should not be used to describe musicians.

Not being taken seriously by the audience and other musicians is the hardest part about drumming as a woman, according to Maria Schettino, a classically trained percussionist of 20 years. She is the drummer in the alternative punk band,Object.

“I don’t want to have to prove myself on the drums. I don’t think proving yourself has anything to do with music,” Schettino said in a 2010 interview with Tom Tom Magazine, a publication about female drummers.

Although I am tired of being unfairly judged because of my gender, the lack of female drummers should trouble everyone. We cheat ourselves by limiting diversity in any industry and letting the stereotype become the standard.

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