Anonymous survey launched to tackle Scotland’s ‘huge’ bagpiping gender gap
But now researchers are to explore the extent of the nation's bagpipe "gender barrier” and what may be behind it.
The National Piping Centre in Glasgow has joined forces with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) on the six-month study, which is aimed at tackling a “huge disparity” in gender representation.
It is hoped an anonymous survey will identify the key reasons behind the "underrepresentation" of women across the piping and drumming scenes.
Female pipers past and present are to be asked about their experiences of sexisim, inappropriate or unethical behaviour, whether they have faced “resistance” due to their gender and whether they feel their piping and drumming communities are “safe spaces.”
Participants will be asked how their gender has affected their musical career, whether they feel they have had equal opportunities and equal treatment, if they have been overlooked for a professional position, and whether female performers and teachers have been actively promoted within the piping and drumming scenes.
Other key issues include whether women and girls are encouraged to take up piping and drumming in Scotland, whether their gender was a barrier to them taking up their instrument, and whether they were influenced by the visibility of other women and girls.
The survey results are expected to influence the piping centre’s future equality, diversity and inclusion strategies.
The survey is being targeted at women who are or have been involved in piping or drumming in Scotland, including musicians from the rest of the UK or overseas who travelled to take part in competitions and other events. Amateur and professional pipers and drummers, current and retired teachers, and competition adjudicators are all being urged to take part in the survey.
An official announcement on the research states: “The gender barrier to taking up, and continuing with, piping and drumming within Scottish communities, particularly in high-profile areas of participation, has long been acknowledged by those working and performing in the field.”
Lady Oona Ivory, chair of the equality, diversity and inclusion group at the piping centre, said: "As part of our EDI development, a dedicated team of women began discussions regarding women in piping and drumming. This survey is the result of these discussions.
“It’ll be enormously helpful to have this data to inform our inclusion strategy for women. We also hope that it’ll be useful to the piping community and other relevant organisations.”
Piping centre marketing manager Helen Urquhart said: “There have always been trailblazing women in the piping and drumming community.
“However, looking at the make-up of who is currently participating, it’s clear there’s still a huge disparity in gender representation.
“This research aims to understand the lived experience of women who have taken part, and are currently take part, in piping and drumming activities, and to learn more about the barriers to entry, continuation and participation."Professor Stephen Broad, director of research at the RCS, said: “As well as the specific issue of representation of women in piping and drumming, it’s important that we better understand the challenges and barriers women face.
“This will be the first major study in this area, and it will provide evidence and insights to support real change.”