Bias Against Sexy Female Performance Attire Is Not A Gender Issue

In the October/November 2010 issue of American Music Teacher, Rebecca Johnson pointed out a study done on whether female attire affects how audiences perceive females’ performances. Griffiths, the author of the study, concluded (in my own blunt summary) that women who dress in sexy clothes on stage are perceived as having less musical ability than those who dress in non-sexy clothes (whether formal concert dress or informal jeans).1 There were an equal number of men and women in the audience of this study, so it can’t be chalked up to male chauvinism.  At first it would seem to show that women are judged unfairly based on how they dress.  But I believe men would be subject to the same judgments if they showed up on stage with an outfit that is obviously designed to be “sexy.”

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  1. Noola Griffiths, “‘Posh music should equal posh dress': an investigation into the concert dress and physical appearance of female soloists”, Psychology of Music 38, No. 2 (2009): 159-177.