By Alexandra Few
At a typical downtown nightclub, how often do you see a female DJ playing the music? What about at EDM music festivals that come to Toronto? Your answer is probably either slim to none.
There are many reasons for this, but a major reason as to why there are so few female DJ’s is because of how our society has created stereotypes and gendered certain occupations. You can tell that this stereotyping is effective simply by the unconscious link we make when thinking of a profession.
© Buzzfeed | YouTube
In the EDM (electronic dance music) realm, DJ’s are often associated with men. Right now, you could probably list off more famous male DJs easier than you could famous female DJs. This association creates barriers that women are continually trying, and succeeding, to break through. But it is important to understand the backbone of why this is occurring in the first place, what exactly these barriers are, and therefore how women are moving past them.
Women in STEM
The STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field has a strong gender bias - majority of its occupations are often associated with men. EDM can fall within the STEM field, particularly the technology and engineering category, because the art of making music requires knowledge and the use of certain pieces of technologies. It also requires the engineering ability to craft together songs in a way that meshes and matches the genre. Not only is this an art, it is also a science, and requires a deep-set of technological knowledge in the field. However, for some women, there is a lack of interest in STEM related occupations and this can be illustrated through the limited number of women graduating in STEM related majors. According to Statistics Canada 20% of women who attended a post-secondary program opted for a STEM major, while over 40% of post-secondary men did the same. This lack of engagement before even applying to post-secondary degrees, can be attributed to many factors, with one being how men and women are brought up and the contrast that occurs.
Although our society is progressing and breaking the gender barrier that is existent, the unconscious processes that occur within us seem to be engrained. It requires a large amount of education and awareness on the stereotypes that exist for men and women, to start to understand the deep-rooted inequalities that exist.
© 2line Productions
One of the barriers that female DJs in EDM face is the underestimating of their talent and ability. Due to the overwhelming amount of men in the field, it can feel more difficult to compete, therefore some women push aside their talent and interest. Understanding that there is this stereotype that exists, and therefore discouraging young women to pursue STEM related activities, is a major way to promote growth and diversity in this field.
Another barrier that women can face in this field is the over-sexualization that occurs. The societal role in appearance can weigh heavy in this field, as many women are made into sexualized objects for the male gaze. Whether it be for posters, flyers, covers, and so on, you will most often see more revealing images of women to promote. This can become problematic, particularly when it is believed that talent is determined by one’s outward appearance. Due to the nature of EDM, appearance can determine if a woman will be booked for a gig. Sometimes before determining if there is talent. This occurs within many instances in society in general, and it is important to realize just how unfair this is, as men would not be put under the same limits and boundaries.
Breaking Through the Barriers with GIMMEMAR
© GIMMEMAR | YouTube
Many women who do face these barriers, do not succumb to them. There are female DJ’s that have gone past the gender bias that occurs within this field, and are executing their talent and skills in the music field.
Toronto based DJ and singer/songwriter GIMMEMAR is a perfect example of how a powerful female is breaking down these barriers and illustrating the importance of doing so.
GIMMEMAR believes that women are not as accurately represented in this field of work as compared to men. She says: “I think that everyone is still learning to adapt to their roles within equality in our fast changing society. Men still think they have a super power that women don’t have and women sometimes forget about the super power they have… Men and women just have to understand each other better and lead with compassion. It’s not a competition or a matter of levels, we should equally work together”.
GIMMEMAR also believes women are changing the way society views DJ’ing, as she says: “For such a long time, there were certain standard occupations for women and certain standard occupations for men. DJ’ing specifically was one of those hobbies or occupations that most people viewed as masculine. In the past 10-20 years, women have managed to express their passion, hard work and talents in the music industry to show that we are obviously equally capable to do all those things and more”.
She continues: “… I hate to say it but exterior shell has helped as well - when a women looks good and sounds good, it’s the best package! Women can profit off of so much these days, almost more than men, but there are still many unjustified areas when it comes to equality including levels of income, trusting us to do the job, and over-sexualizing to name a few...It’s not completely equal yet and is very frustrating from time to time because women are still being taken advantage of for fragile men to feel bigger”.
GIMMEMAR mentions instances in her career where she felt that being a female DJ has hindered her success. “Some of my clients specifically are seeking female DJ’s because their event or client would rather have a woman represent their brand, or event. Then there are other times where I see all-male line up of DJ’s for parties, clubs or festivals, and that’s where it’s frustrating because the promoter or booking agent really didn’t make any effort to include a female…”
Although the music industry is dominated by successful male DJ’s, it is extremely important to remember that female DJ’s have just as much success and talent, and therefore deserve as much recognition.