One common response was “I don't agree with it” often with very little follow up. I did warn you that they were vague! I’ve come up with three ways to this could be interpreted;
First off it could mean that you don't agree that there is a gender imbalance in jazz in Ireland. I don't know what to say to you other then you're wrong. By every measurable factor (ratio of men to women studying jazz at third level, ratio of women to men on jazz festivals and gigs) men outnumber women at least 8 to 1. It’s obvious to anyone with eyes who’s ever been to a jazz gig; there are more men than women. The only logical conclusion I can come to as to why people would deny that there is a gender imbalance in jazz is that people are mixing up the word “balance” with “bias”. There may or may not be a gender bias, that’s a much bigger question and one we’d love to hear your opinions on! The BAN BAM talks start tomorrow at 4pm, click right here for more info.
The second way that this could be interpreted is that you don't think the gender imbalance is a bad thing or that it doesn’t need to be addressed. This one I disagree with wholeheartedly but at least it’s more logical than the first. I believe all communities, art forms and fields of research benefit from being diverse and inclusive. If you don't want women included in the jazz community for what you see as altruistic reasons you might be convinced by financials ones; it will in all likelihood encourage new audiences to pay attention to jazz.
And lastly the third interpretation of this response could be “I don't agree that a festival highlighting the gender imbalance is helpful to improving gender imbalance". If this is your stance I would genuinely love to hear from you! I am open to suggestion on how to best improve the balance of gender in jazz and improvised music! The IMC has said it’s committed to it and this festival is not the only thing they’ve done, or plan to do on the topic. If you have suggestions please come to the talks tomorrow and make them known! The only suggestion I’m not really interested in hearing about is the one that goes something like “that’s just the way society / the world / gender dynamics works, there’s nothing I can do about it”. It is defeatist and unhelpful.
There is one more reaction that I keep getting in response to this festival. This one I have mainly gotten from male jazz musicians and is sometimes well meaning, if perhaps naive, and sometimes fairly condescending; “but I'm not sexist" or “but my friends aren’t sexists” or “but I've never seen sexism in any of the bands I play in”. I’m unsure how to respond to this, it seems so arbitrarily defensive. I’m glad you aren’t sexist I guess. It’s a disappointing reminder of how people’s defensiveness can get in the way of progress. If your first response to someone who is promoting a minority within your industry is to defend yourself from an imagined attack then I’m not sure what to say other than…maybe chill out a bit! There’ll be loads of good music at BAN BAM tomorrow, seems like a good place to chill out to me!