Australian women screen composers: career barriers and pathways

Performing arts Arts Gender differences Workforce diversity Sexism Australia
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While the music industry in Australia is healthy and vibrant, women continue to be underrepresented in key roles and make up only a small proportion of those making money from their musical endeavours. As an organisation committed to redressing this situation, APRA AMCOS commissioned RMIT University's Dr Catherine Strong to conduct research on screen composers as a preliminary exploration of what factors are limiting or enabling the development of women's careers in music.

APRA AMCOS membership data shows that only 21.7% of our members identify as female. The percentage of royalty payments made to female members has fluctuated between 15% and 21% between 2007 and 2016, with no clear trend apparent. Given this ongoing underrepresentation of female creators demonstrated by these numbers, a subset of APRA AMCOS members was chosen to form the basis of a preliminary study on why this is the case, and what strategies could be developed to increase women’s participation in the music industry. Screen composers were identified as a sub-group among the APRA AMCOS membership that was even more polarised in terms of gender representation than the wider membership, with only 13% of registered screen composers being female.

As such, the aims of this research are:

- To gain an understanding of the pathways to participation available to women who work in film and television music composition in Australia, including the barriers to their inclusion in this field; and

- To develop an overview of educational institutions that provide training in this area and understand the role these institutions play in the development of women’s careers.

The research showed female composers are less likely to be making a sustainable career from their craft, less likely to be given fair opportunities for work despite being more educated, less likely to win professional accolades and more likely to experience sexism.

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