Making Women in Jazz Visible: Negotiating Discourses of Unity and Diversity in Sweden and the US


  • Cecilia Björck University of Gothenburg IASPM Norden branch
  • Åsa Bergman University of Gothenburg IASPM Norden branch


music and gender equality, women in jazz, visibility, resistance, ethnography, discourse


The aim of this article is to examine responses to a project that aspires to further gender-equal jazz scenes in Sweden and the US. The project brought together actors at various levels of the industry: cultural agencies, commercial organizers, activists, and artists. Our analysis – with special focus on resistance voiced – is based on observations, interviews with organizers, and a documentary about the project. The project’s central ambition was to make women in jazz visible in order to change a structural imbalance where men still take up most of the space on stage. This ambition was, however, complicated as different actors resisted a female–male binary, and thus the very idea of “women in jazz”. The resistance was played out through gender equality discourses of either unity or diversity, varying in relation to national context and generation. The article also discusses visibility as a central but also problematic aspect for gender equality efforts in music

Author Biographies

Cecilia Björck, University of Gothenburg IASPM Norden branch

Cecilia Björck has a PhD in Music Education Research and holds a position as Associate Professor in Education at the University of Gothenburg. Her research interest is focused on meaning making in relation to young people’s engagement with popular culture, especially concerning aspects of gender, equality, norms and normalization.

Åsa Bergman, University of Gothenburg IASPM Norden branch

Åsa Bergman has a PhD in Musicology and holds a position as Associate Professor in Cultural Studies at the University of Gothenburg. Her research is mainly carried out in various music education practices or youth music practices and analyzed by combining theoretical perspectives from Cultural Studies, Music Education, Sociology of Music and Gender Studies.



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