Women Film Composers Fight for an Even Score
Diversity in Hollywood is a big topic these days. But consider the plight of the female composer: Over the past three years, only 1% to 2% of composers working on the top 250 films at the box office were women.
Those numbers, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, are worse than those for any other below-the-line craft. In 2014, women supervising sound editors were at 5%, cinematographers at 5%, and directors at 7%.
Martha Lauzen, who compiles these statistics at San Diego State University, calls the numbers “shockingly low.” She suspects that “the same mechanisms that suppress the numbers of women directors and cinematographers, such as gender stereotypes and expectations, also limit the numbers of women composers. What do we expect composers to look like?”
Yet there are signs of progress. On Aug. 19, the Alliance for Women Film Composers staged a concert in downtown L.A. showcasing the work of 20 top female composers in films, TV, and games. They included Oscar winner Rachel Portman; Emmy winners Wendy & Lisa, Lolita Ritmanis, and the late Shirley Walker; and BAFTA winner Jessica Curry.