Dharini Upadhyaya, Furtados School of Music, on how arts can empower women and enable them to excel in other fields too
Education has a diverse and vast canvas, in which art and cultural learning fill in the colour. However, one cannot deny the fact that parents and schools have always been more inclined to academics than any other kind of learning. That somehow blurred the careers of students who aspired to make their careers in art, music and sports. Dharini Upadhyaya is one person who started the Furtados School of Music as an initiative to provide proper platforms to those students. Through this school, Upadhyaya wanted to give recognition to the students who have much more to offer than good grades. Excerpts:
How do you see women’s empowerment in the last few years?
Over the past few years, there has been remarkable progress in women’s empowerment. The global workforce has seen a rise in the number of women, particularly in leadership positions across various industries. Women are challenging traditional gender roles and norms and are increasingly expressing themselves confidently.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, the gender gap is still prevalent, and it will take over a century to close it entirely. The report highlights the importance of continued efforts to support women’s progress.
Although there have been some positive developments in recent years, including greater representation of women in leadership roles, there is still much work to be done to achieve true gender equality. Women have demonstrated their potential in diverse fields, including science, technology, arts, and beyond, and it’s crucial to provide them with equal opportunities and support to achieve their full potential.
What are the factors you think that are still responsible for resisting women from coming out of their shells?
Despite significant progress made by women in recent years, there still remain several challenges that resist them from achieving their potential. Gender discrimination, unequal access to education and job opportunities, and societal norms that reinforce gender roles and stereotypes are some of the factors that continue to hold women back.
Women often face a difficult balancing act between work and family responsibilities, which can impact their career growth. Studies show that in the United States, women who work full-time earn only 82 cents for every dollar earned by men.
In addition, the music industry remains male-dominated, with women underrepresented in the top 500 songs between 2012 and 2018, according to a report by the University of Southern California.
It’s crucial to address the systemic issues that prevent women from reaching their full potential, as women’s participation in the workforce can significantly impact global GDP.
As Vice President Kamala Harris pointed out, it’s time to ensure that women’s voices are fully heard and their potential fully realised.
Apart from education and employment, which another factor can accelerate their economic state?
While education and employment are essential, there are other factors that can accelerate women’s economic state. Financial literacy is crucial in empowering women to make informed financial decisions and build wealth over time.
According to a study by the World Bank, increasing women’s access to financial services could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.
Mentorship and access to capital can also support women entrepreneurs and help them grow their businesses.
A report by the National Women’s Business Council found that women-owned businesses contribute $1.8 trillion to the US economy. Investing in music education for women could also lead to increased workforce participation and economic growth.
Overall, financial literacy, mentorship, access to capital, and music education are some of the factors that can accelerate women’s economic state and contribute to global economic growth.
What was the motivator behind starting a music school?
Starting my music school was a result of our passion for music and my belief in its transformative power. My goal was to provide an inclusive platform for people of all ages and backgrounds to express themselves creatively and learn quality music education. We wanted to create a nurturing environment where students could develop their creativity, and self-expression, and grow as musicians. Our inspiration came from Dolly Parton’s quote, “Music is a universal language that brings people together” and we wanted to promote inclusivity and bring people together through music. We strongly believe that everyone should have equal opportunities to learn and experience the joy of music, which motivated us to start a music school.
How do you see women’s growth in the art industry and how can it be better in the coming days?
In recent years, we have seen some progress in women’s growth in the art industry. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, women make up nearly half of all visual artists and writers, but they are still underrepresented in key leadership positions.
Similarly, a study by the University of Southern California found that only 22 per cent of popular songs are performed by women, and even fewer are written by them. To better support women in the art industry, we need to address the systemic issues that hold them back and provide them with more opportunities for recognition, mentorship and financial support.
We should also encourage more diversity and representation in the industry, especially at the decision-making and leadership levels. As Michelle Obama once said, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish” and it’s time to empower more women to make their mark in the art industry.
What is the ratio of men and women coming into your school, what does that ratio imply?
At our music school, we strive to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students, regardless of gender. The ratio of men and women coming into our school is nearly equal, with women accounting for 49 per cent of our student population and men accounting for 51 per cent. This ratio suggests that we are successful in creating a space where students of all genders feel comfortable learning and growing as musicians.
However, there is still a need to continue promoting gender equality and providing opportunities for women to excel in the music industry. Our school’s nearly equal ratio of men and women students is a positive sign, and we will continue to promote inclusivity and diversity in music education.
How can music play a role to enhance women’s economic status in society?
I believe that music can have a significant impact on enhancing women’s economic status in society. However, music education can provide women with valuable skills and opportunities that can help them succeed in various fields.
A study by the Royal Society of Arts found that individuals who received music education were more likely to have higher earnings and work in more professional occupations. Additionally, learning music can foster creativity, discipline and problem-solving skills, which are all valuable traits in the workforce. Music can also provide women with career opportunities in various aspects of the music industry, such as performance, composition, teaching and production. The music industry generates significant revenue, and women’s participation can contribute to the industry’s economic growth.
Moreover, music can also boost women’s confidence and self-esteem, which can empower them to pursue their goals and ambitions, including economic empowerment. Therefore, investing in music education for women can be an effective way to promote their economic growth and contribute to the overall development of society.