The topic of gender equality seems to have become ubiquitous. If we look at the film scoring industry, however, this isn't the case. According to The New York Times
, "for the top 100 fictional films at the box office every year from 2007 to 2017, only 16 female composers were hired, compared with more than 1,200 men." At the same time, a report by Parsons & Ravenscroft for 2016 shows that 20% of composers from around the world are female. While still not ideal, the situation is changing.
I did my own research — I took the top 20 movies at the 2019 Worldwide Box Office Rating
of films, provided by Box Office Mojo, and found that two of them were scored by women composers. The music for Captain Marvel (the movie made it into the top five) was written by Pinar Toprak, who graduated from Berklee College of Music and is part of Hans Zimmer's production company. Hildur Gudnadóttir, a composer from Iceland, won the Best Original Score Oscar for Joker. This is only the second time in history — the first woman to win an Oscar was Rachel Portman.
I talked to three female composers about the stereotypes they faced in a male-dominated industry.Evelyne Datl
, a Canadian composer for Film and Television, started her career in the 90s, creating a demo with a few tracks and making cold calls. At the time, it was very difficult: there just wasn't a lot of receptivity. Even if people answered the call and invited her for a meeting, a lot of them still questioned whether she would be able to do the job. "Not a lot of people wanted to take the risk. Luckily, I had some that believed in me … and that was great. I think, comparatively, I've been pretty lucky. At the time, really there was, maybe, one or two other women in my city doing music for TV," the composer recalls.
She makes further emphasis on this concept of "risk". "Men have been taught to be the leaders, from a cultural standpoint of survival. You know, they are the ones who protected women, they are the stronger ones, they are the ones that went and did the risk taking," Evelyne contemplates. The filming process, production of albums for an artist, concerts — these projects have a lot of potential risk involved: "If it doesn't turn out right, it's a big waste of the resources, it's a lot of responsibility. Those are the kinds of things men are typically assigned with because they are seen as the ones that are stronger, more resilient under pressure. I think that is what needs to change — that perception. They might appear to be more resilient, but as we know deep down, there's often a lot that goes on with men that they don't show."