Happy International Women’s Day!
This is a day to remind us that opportunities haven’t always been equal for women and girls, as they have been for boys and men.
When we speak to the older generations such as our parents and grandparents, we realise how far we have come. This doesn’t mean though, that it’s time to stop striving towards equality in the world.
I remember a time in the ‘80s when I was growing up in Switzerland and first learnt music. Most children in my school were encouraged to play the recorder as a first instrument. We were taught to read music and told that when our hands grew larger, we could learn to play the instrument of our choice. It didn’t work out like this however, as there was a clear divide in gender on what instrument a boy or a girl was supposed to learn.
In my early teens, my best friend learnt to play the trumpet. I remember how surprised I was to find out that she not only chose a “boy’s” instrument but her parents encouraged her to do this. My dad is a drummer but growing up I never even considered playing the drums, as I didn't know any girls play the drums. What a wasted opportunity.
Looking back, I feel quite sad that I didn’t see the world through the eyes of my best friend.
In Sport, there was a similar pattern. Boys played football and the girls went to ballet or played volleyball.
Whilst I was going to ballet classes, my trumpet playing friend went to Judo. I often wondered how she came to follow her interests, rather than the expectations of society. I never asked who her role models were or how she had the determination to follow her dreams.
In 2019, we can all chuckle at the thought that there should be gender-specific instruments and that girls shouldn’t play football. I admire the women who are playing “boy’s” instruments and are not scared to become footballers or do anything they want.
Let’s fast forward to 2008. My friends and I founded Fusion and launched our business at the Music China Show in Shanghai. It was an experience I will never forget. There we were, four women with a bunch of innovative gig bags with heaps of motivation to make our business successful, by revolutionising the way instruments were transported.
We never gave it much thought about Fusion being an all-female team, until we were faced with silly little comments that highlighted the fact that there were no men amongst the directors. I remember at one of our early trade shows, a retailer said to one of our distributors: “Oh so Fusion is an all-female run company? They will soon end up cat-fighting and it will all come to an end.”
Another comment made to us was: “Don’t your husband’s mind that you are travelling the world without them?”
And then, of course, there is the classic comment where someone wants to talk to the “boss” and it doesn’t occur to them that the women they are speaking to are the bosses. It makes me smile to remember replying “‘You are talking to the boss”.
So what can we do to change this imbalance?
We feel the need to talk about the many great female role models that are and have been successful in the music industry. Women who have made a career as ambitious musicians or who are involved with music-related businesses and projects.
For this reason, we are launching a series of interviews called “Women in Music”, which highlights the spirited and determined women who have made their passion a career. We also ask how they achieved this and what their advice is for women who want to get involved in the music industry.
These women are role models for the next generation of girls. They will help them follow their dreams and believe in their abilities. I for one, will certainly give support to my young daughter and show her that anything is possible if she works hard and never gives up.
About the Author
Nicole Szekeres is one of the founders of Fusion Bags and the Director of Marketing.
The first ever album she bought was Tracy Chapman. Besides many styles of music Nicole is interested in digital marketing, has a passion for the outdoors and loves espresso.