Over the past couple of months, a quiet revolution has been taking place at the Mitrovica Rock School. So quiet, in fact, that it went completely unnoticed until senior workshop leader Misko Radovic drew our attention to it: girls are claiming their place in the Mitrovica rock and roll scene.
In November this year, our north branch reported that half of its drum students were female. This should be nothing extraordinary in the 21st century, but regrettably it is. While there are no data on Kosovo drummers, the U.S. numbers should give an indication: estimates run from a 63-37 ratio to an 83-17 male-female ratio. A 2010 article in the Guardian illustrates that this is not just a problem in the rhythm section, but that the music industry as a whole lags pathetically behind when it comes to gender equality. Put that together with Kosovo’s track record on gender equality, and you’ve got a pretty dismal starting situation for our little Rock School.
Despite the predominantly female project leadership that we’ve had from the start, introducing gender equality proved a major obstacle in the face of traditional Balkan values. During one staff meeting, a teacher argued against hiring women for any of our job openings, because “girls will just go and have babies.” He laughed off the retort that many mothers actually return to work (“Maybe in America!”).
A review of this year’s numbers shows, however, that the Mitrovica Rock School has finally turned a corner. While we still serve more boys than girls (57% to 43%), new enrollment in 2014 favored girls to boys 51% to 49%. Even more telling is that an increasing number of girls are choosing instruments traditionally associated with male roles, such as the drums, bass guitar and electric guitar. Nine of our 22 drum students are female, and their numbers are growing.
As a recent job posting reminded us, it’s still hard to find female candidates for senior teaching positions at the Rock School: for the older generation, the rock scene is still very much a man’s world. But given our past success in graduating talented students into professional music positions, we have good hopes that the Rock School can make a real difference on this point in the not too distant future.
Time to move over, guys.