Women composers’ use of online communities of practice to build and support their careers

Sophie Hennekam*, Sally Macarthur, Dawn Bennett, Cat Hope, Talisha Goh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
100 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine women composers’ use of online communities of practice (CoP) to negotiate the traditionally masculine space of music composition while operating outside its hierarchical structures. Design/methodology/approach: The authors employed a mixed methods approach consisting of an online survey (n=225) followed by 27 semi-structured in-depth interviews with female composers to explore the concept and use of CoP. Content analysis was used to analyze the survey responses and interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to interpret respondents’ lived experiences as relayed in the interviews. Findings: The findings reveal that the online environment can be a supportive and safe space for female composers to connect with others and find support, feedback and mentorship, increase their visibility and develop career agency through learning and knowledge acquisition. CoP emerged as an alternative approach to career development for practicing female music workers and as a tool which could circumvent some of the enduring gendered challenges. Originality/value: The findings suggest that online CoP can have a positive impact on the career development and sustainability of women in male-dominated sectors such as composition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-230
Number of pages16
JournalPersonnel Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


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