It’s International Women’s Day! To properly celebrate, I say let’s all burn, sink, or plant a piano Annea Lockwood-style. Perhaps in keeping with the times we could extend this practice to electric keyboards as well. Be sure to send photos!
Not only would I like to take advantage of this occasion to point you towards David Smooke’s post from Tuesday, in which he runs a few unofficial yet telling numbers illustrating gender representation in some small slices of the concert programming world, but also offer some potential solutions via Timothy Rutherford-Johnson’s exellent IWD-themed playlist for today, not to mention pile on some additional numbers (which are actually not as abysmal as I expected).
It is very true that there are fewer female composers in the world than male composers, and for that reason we will probably not anytime soon reach a 50/50 split in concert programming across the board. I agree that a big reason for this is a lack of role models and female composition teachers. (Indeed, I can almost guarantee that I would not be working in this field today if I had not had female composition teachers from day one.) However, the issue at present seems less about persuading more young women to enter the field, than about celebrating the female composers who are here now, making music now. I also urge the female composers out there to celebrate (obviously well beyond today) yourself and your music. Get out there and bring it, ladies. It’s up to those making decisions about concert programming to pay attention and look beyond their immediate circles of influence to hear and see the music of the many amazing female composers active today, and responsibility also falls on the composers to put their music out there with everything they’ve got.
I do think that numbers are improving, but it’s slow going, and many institutions (the larger ones especially) have a lot of catching up to do. However, I am heartened by the number of college professors (both male and female) who are incorporating a diverse range of music by female composers into their curricula. I hope a day will come when we can look back at these statistics and laugh.