London, Apr 11 : Be it football pitch or the classroom, the girls have created a niche for themselves in every field where boys have, thanks to the efforts made by schools. But there is one place where stereotypes are still prevailing: the music room.
Boys are captivated by macho instruments like the trombone, drums and electric guitar, while the gentler tones of the flute, harp and violin are girls' province.
Now, in a research, education experts are trying to find the reasons behind the prevalence of such a behaviour.
They blame gender stereotyping by both teachers and parents, peer pressure and the fear of bullying and the size and shape of instruments. The researchers at the University of London's Institute of Education - led by Professor Susan Hallam, a former professional musician - looked at the instrument choices of nearly half a million children.
They found that the vast majority of those for harp, flute, fife, piccolo, clarinet, oboe and violin were by girls, whereas boys were far more likely to play the electric guitar, bass guitar, tuba and trombone.
They suggest setting up single-sex ensembles to bridge the divide.
However, the researchers admit that boys seem to like instruments that require physical input and are easy to learn, and girls seem to prefer gentler sounds - and instruments that are not too heavy to carry.
"The cultural gender stereotyping of instruments inevitably has an impact on the preferences of boys and girls, leading to girls typically preferring to play smaller, higher-pitched instruments," Times Online quoted the report, which is published in the International Journal of Music Education, as stating.
A child's choice of instrument can be heavily influenced by his or her music teacher.
"Presenting instruments aurally and visually, without players, can encourage boys to select more feminine instruments, although it has little effect on girls' choices. Changing the gender of the role model playing the instrument has also been shown to be effective with children aged 5 to 7. When a female is playing a 'masculine' instrument, more girls opt for playing it," the report stated.
"Where children choose to play an instrument that is considered gender-inappropriate, they may experience bullying or loss of popularity. Even where there is apparently free choice, stereotypical views of masculinity and femininity still play an important part," the report added.