Music Australia News

Call out for participants: survey of women composers

Maeve Marsden
| December 8, 2015

The Creative Workforce Initiative at Curtin University has just launched an international, career-based study of women composers, led by Music Australia board member Dawn Bennett. The research focused on the impact of gender on the practice of women composers.

Despite increases in enrollments of women in composition courses, women are less visible than men in the profession, with their work receiving less attention and performance opportunities.

According to Dr Bennett, “Studies in the US and Europe have found that women feature in only 2% of concert programs and this is similar in Australia, where one study found that women’s music features in less than 2% of programs.

Although Australian women composers make up 25% of those listed with the Australian Music Centre and around 30% of composition majors in tertiary music institutions are women, less than 10% of the works programmed by eight surveyed Australian new music groups in 2013 were composed by women. This is worse than a similar audit in 1994, at which time women had composed 35% of the works performed by new music groups. Moreover, whilst new music groups generally fare better than orchestras and opera companies in their inclusion of music composed by women, in reduced funding environments these groups tend to come and go, and the works often go with them.”

Despite extensive discussion in the media about gender inequality in popular contemporary music, there has been no comprehensive study of women composers that includes Australia since the 1990s, and there is no study of women composers internationally.

It is hard to advocate for funding, education and support without adequate data and research into the state of play.

Curtin University’s study aims to create a unique picture of work for women composers. The team hopes to have results within 6 months.

Click here to participate in the study.

For more information, contact CWI Director Professor Dawn Bennett at [email protected]

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