'Gender and Creativity' is a research project by Creative Lives sponsored by the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities. It investigates the relationship between gender and creativity in gender-specific creative groups across the UK. 

The research was conducted by Creative Lives' PhD intern, Anna McEwan, who examined the relevant literature and interviewed several creative groups: 

  • Voicemale
  • The Men of Leith Men's Shed
  • Dads Rock
  • Overdrive Dance Company
  • Mothership Writers
  • Breathe Melodies for Mums
  • Sharpen Her: The African Women's Network

Main themes

The project was initially conceived as a means to understand the role of women in the voluntary arts sector more generally, however, as the research developed it became clear that the landscape of gender-specific creative groups is evolving. In particular, this report will highlight the number of men’s creative groups in operation.

Despite the difference in creative activities (singing, woodwork, DIY, music, writing, dance and storytelling) all of the interviewees placed great importance on their groups being just for men or women. The most prominent theme was that groups operate as ‘safe spaces’ to express gendered experiences.

Some of our favourite quotes from the interviews are:

There’s a safety and comfort in a group of women being together in the same space and sharing their experiences in a very honest way.

Writing was where I had freedom and control; two things that I didn’t feel I had a lot of as a new mum.

Read the full report below (or via ISSUU) or download a PDF copy [6.38MB].


This report recommends that greater support could be given to gender-specific creative groups in the following ways:

  1. In order to attract more men and male-identifying people to men’s and dad’s groups, funding could be provided for these groups to organise events in the local community to highlight the groups’ work.
  2. Relevant organisations could offer men’s and dad’s groups an online platform to dispel ideas about toxic masculinity in male-only environments through a dedicated social media campaign.
  3. Relevant organisations could work with gender-specific creative groups to find (and where possible fund) physical spaces where members can build community and exchange gendered experiences.
  4. Workshops and skills sessions could be organised with gender-specific creative groups to help them cater to post-COVID conditions, for example, providing a hybrid format.
  5. Relevant organisations and groups could work together to produce a set of guidelines on gender-inclusive practices in gender-specific creative groups to ensure gender fluid, non-binary and transgender people feel welcome to participate.
  6. An exchange of experiences could be organised to find out the types of problems gender fluid, non-binary and transgender peoples encounter in gender-specific creative groups to influence the guidelines on gender-inclusive practices.
  7. All organisations and groups (gender-specific creative groups and partners) could ensure their websites, social media and public-facing communication are written in gender-neutral language and encourage others to adopt similar language.
  8. There could be a more democratised funding structure available for gender-specific creative groups in the UK, including separate funding calls in order to acknowledge the distinct requirements of gender-specific creative groups.

Images featured above:

1. Illustration credit: Esther Curtis (for Mothership Writers)

2. Photo of Dads Rock. Photo credit: Thomas Lynch