Kerry Andrew asks the question that (she clearly thinks) should be on the lips of everyone, everywhere:
… is there a gender gap in the music industry?
Well, frankly, that probably what you’d expect from a ‘freelance composer, performer and music educator based in London, specialising in experimental vocal music, choral music, folk, jazz and electronica‘ who also happens to have breasts, I suppose…
Any chance the answer’s ‘No’?
Well yes. The facts are clear: 14% of the PRS for Music Foundation’s (the Performing Rights Society of composers, songwriters and music publishers) members are female.
And there came a resounding cry of ‘So what?’ from everyone….
I don’t believe there’s a cabal of grunting old men in darkened, smoky rooms putting big crosses over scores submitted by ladies.
Really? Well, chalk one up to you for that, at least.
I’ve never felt discriminated against in the slightest, so rest assured I am not setting fire to my piano to rage against the dying of the light. It’s simply true to say that there are more professional male music creators than female out there. For some reason, it’s taking a lot longer than in literature and the visual arts to reach equilibrium.
And when we reach ‘equilibrium’ will we have better music as a result? Or is that not really your goal?
At an all-girls’ school workshop I ran recently, the music teacher said it was brilliant for the students to see, with their own eyes, a real live professional female composer.
Ahhh, yes. A familiar refrain, indeed. ‘If only that person looked like me, I’d want to do what he/she does!’
At GCSE and A-level, the classical composers studied in set works are almost exclusively male. And white. Oh, and dead.
So? Is their music of less value, intrinsically, than if they were female, brown or alive?
It’s glaringly obvious: if girls are presented with examples of successful female creators in all genres, they might view composition as a viable profession for themselves.
But if they don’t have the talent for it, they’ll still fail.
Positive prejudice goes some way to helping this. Last year, the PRS for Music Foundation, looking at their alarming statistics, decided to do something about it, funding 28 projects through their Women Make Music scheme (including me, with a project on British birds in folklore. ).
*shrugs* It’s their money…
And today, UK Music launched their Equality & Diversity charter, encouraging organisations, businesses and individuals to commit to two or more actions to help improve equality and diversity in 2012.
Well, of course. I guess you’re no-one if you don’t have an Equality & Diversity Plan these days. Rather like a ‘Social Media Strategy’.
No doubt some people would say this is political correctness gone mad.
Oh, perish the thought!
Phew! Glad you cleared that up.
These are great initiatives – not just for women, of course, but – in UK Music’s case – for people of different ethnic backgrounds and for people with disabilities.
Hurrah! A rainbow-coloured orchestra! Who cares what they sound like, feel the diversity!
We need, however, to address the inequality at the nub: those writing the curriculum, the National Music Plan, and teachers at all levels should make an effort to use examples of music by women in the classroom; to promote composition as a living, breathing, utterly unisex profession.
And will we get better music? Shouldn’t that be the only concern?