Creating a More Inclusive Industry: The Alliance for Women Film Composers


  • Maddie Grills Tulane University


This case examines the obstacles women film composers face because of their gender.  Throughout history, women in the West have been excluded from the musical canon because of a lack of access to resources and education that would allow them to have a career in composition. As a result, the musical canon lacks the unique musical perspectives that could have been generated by women and contributed to an enrichment of Western culture. Today, women composers continue to face challenges in higher education, facing gender discrimination from within music departments. Those that continue with a career in music beyond college face discrepancies in annual earnings compared to men. They experience a lack of mentorship, sexual harassment, difficulty maintaining a work-life balance, tokenism, a lack recognition for their work, as well as isolation. All of these factors contribute to the low numbers of women working as film composers. The text raises the question of who the responsibility for change should fall to. Should it fall to the men in more powerful positions in these studios and films? Or should it fall to the women themselves, who may know better what should be done to make the film industry a more welcoming environment for them? In the face of these obstacles, some of the women have attempted to create communities through social media, yet these communities are only a small step towards creating change and inclusion in a male-dominated field. In 2014, composers Lolita Ritmanis, Laura Karpman, and Miriam Cutler created the Alliance for Women Film Composers as an attempt to realize this desired change.


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