Women in classical music struggle to balance career and family, study shows

Women in classical music struggle to balance career and family, study shows

It is not uncommon for parents to have difficulty balancing career and family.

This is especially true for those working in classical music. A new British report reveals that 40% of them are considering a career change due to the difficulties they face in managing their professional and family lives.

Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PiPA) and London’s Birkbeck University conducted in-depth interviews with 410 professionals in the industry to get an overview of their current state of mind. Based on the results of the survey, it seems clear that parents and carers are struggling to balance the demands of their musical career and family life.

Nearly a third of respondents (30%) say that their family obligations interfere with their professional opportunities, especially when they are self-employed.

“There are not enough hours in the day! Working as a self-employed musician with two children under five and a husband working a full time job is exhausting and very difficult to juggle,” said one survey respondent.

Other factors, such as the logistical and financial demands of touring and working away from home, as well as the lack of affordable childcare options, also contribute to the struggles of parents working in classical music. The result: 93% of those surveyed have turned down work due to caring responsibilities.

Women bearing the burden of parenthood

Unsurprisingly, women in classical music careers find it particularly difficult to balance these two aspects of their lives. This situation is reflected in the figures: self-employed women with children or relatives to support earn, on average, £12,000 a year (about RM65,000), compared to £20,000 (RM108,000) for their male counterparts.

The authors of the research also found that the arrival of a child sometimes represents a real obstacle to the career progression of professionals in the sector.

“My other half is a successful opera singer who has travelled frequently throughout our marriage. My own career has always taken second place, and throughout my working life, decisions surrounding my work have been influenced by their needs, or the needs of my children. I have never been able to immerse myself fully in furthering my career,” explains one respondent.

Given the scale of the issue, the study authors call on leaders in the sector to innovate so that parents and carers are no longer neglected. They put forward a number of ideas, such as the introduction of more flexible working hours to accommodate those with family responsibilities.

“To become truly inclusive, classical music requires a culture shift to address persistent inequalities (in the sector),” the researchers conclude. – AFP

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