On January 25, we joined forces with the Alliance for Women Film Composers (AWFC) and organized ‘The Media Future is Female’. An online session where we aimed to create meaningful connections among twenty Dutch female media composers, so they could reinforce one another and enrich their network. To be honest, it was long overdue. In an industry that is dominated by men, it is sometimes hard to recognize what is obvious. This needs to change. Our intent was not to single out men but move towards more equality within the field.
Starting point for the session was the research report ‘Gender Equality Among Music Professionals in the Netherlands’ from 2018. The report concluded that Dutch female composers often don’t know many other female composers within the industry, and therefore miss a whole network. In an hour-long session, we aimed to change this paradigm, and we were struck by everyone’s openness and willingness to connect. We look back on a very inspiring session and would like to thank everyone involved. In case you couldn’t make it, or want a little refresher, here’s a summary.
Being a female shouldn’t be a Unique Selling Point
In this industry, being a female composer means that you’re often the female composer on a project. Frequently, women in this situation imagine that they have to be remarkable, because they are the only female and need to represent that. However, this shouldn’t have to be the case at all. Being a woman should never be the USP – her sound, experience, talent and knowledge should be instead. The industry needs to see female composers as composers, and the more women connect and support each other, the better. And of course, we need men to embrace this as well.
Lift each other up and collaborate
One of our speakers from AWFC started the conversation by sharing her view on being a female composer for media: ‘Male composers call their guy friends for a job. They have a whole network and lift each other up. That is what women should do too. That’s why it’s so important to know other female composers and work together. Don’t be afraid to meet other great female composers and don’t shy away from recommending them. This is how we create our own network.’
A participant admits: ‘I often have the feeling that I have to do it all. I can’t fail and ask for help’. Of course, this mindset puts a huge pressure on someone’s shoulders. While looking into this matter, we noticed that one thing that contributes to this pressure is the feeling of being alone. Working as a composer can feel quite solitary. All the more important, that a Dutch female composer’s network is created, so they can turn to each other for advice, opportunities and collaborations.
Doing it all
Multiple women seemed to wear several hats. The hat of a composer, artist, DJ, mix engineer etc. The feeling of having to do it all was undeniable. It is a direct result of not knowing who to collaborate with, and therefore deciding to do everything yourself.
In collaboration with AWFC, we started this session to align women in the industry. So, when one was asked: ‘Do you know any female composers?’, the answer wouldn’t be ‘Oh, I don’t know actually’, but ‘Damn sure I do’.
Mission accomplished. And, to be continued.