Dossier

The Swiss music scene: A man’s world

Panorama

Women are underrepresented on the Swiss music scene. How have these structures become established? What do we have to do to achieve greater equality?

Theresa Beyer - 2019-10-21
The Swiss music scene: A man’s world - The reality on the Swiss stage today is this: one women for every six men. “If I’m the only woman performing at a festival, I’m really exposed and put a lot of pressure on myself”, says the musician Veronika Klaus. Illustration: joanna.r.s
The reality on the Swiss stage today is this: one women for every six men. “If I’m the only woman performing at a festival, I’m really exposed and put a lot of pressure on myself”, says the musician Veronika Klaus. Illustration: joanna.r.s

In Switzerland, the genders are evenly balanced among regular concert-goers. We also find a roughly 50/50 balance of young women and men at the universities of music. And we can, of course, assume the fundamental fact that musical talent itself is pretty equitably distributed between male and female. 

So things are all the more surprising when we take a look at the professional music scene. Whether onstage (from bass players to conductors), backstage (from bookers to producers) or in writing about music (whether journalists or musicologists), it’s mostly men who’re calling the tune.

How have these structures come about? What do we have to do to bring about change? How do young women musicians cope with this? Our dossier engages with all these issues. Its five articles link up with current debates, present role models past and present, and aim to be thought-provoking across all musical genres. And yes: they’re politicising too. But we’re not here to moan or to apportion blame: we want instead to offer pointed observations and concrete possibilities for change, while leaving space for different, subjective perspectives.

This dossier also offers an optimistic view of the future. Because we’re in a period of change, and the #MeToo debate and the women’s strike have given things an extra boost. In the year 2019, a vision of gender equality has become more and more embedded in the minds of music-makers, decision-makers and culture-makers – and in our audiences, too. And initial measures are also bearing fruit – such as the Diversity Roadmap of Helvetiarockt. So our dossier is both part of this process of change and a testament to it.

We hope you enjoy reading the dossier, and that we can all be part of a constructive debate.

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