Female screen composers are less likely to achieve a sustainable career, less likely to be given fair opportunities for work (despite being more educated), and less likely to win professional accolades.

These are just a few of the findings detailed in a report by RMIT’s Dr. Catherine Strong into the $6bn+ sector, commissioned by APRA AMCOS.

Released overnight, the report, Australian Women Screen Composers: Career Barriers and Pathways, also found that women are more likely to experience sexism. 67% of women surveyed agreed that ‘gender discrimination is common in the industry’, compared with 32% of men.

Women were also far more likely than men to believe that their gender had a negative effect on their careers (50% of women vs 1% of men)

This project was undertaken between 15 December 2016 and 16 February 2017 to understand how musicians establish and maintain careers in film and television music.

Following a survey, of which 159 usable surveys were completed, the research team conducted one-hour interviews with 27 screen music composers.

“One of the key outcomes of this research was that there was a fundamental mismatch between how our male participants saw the industry compared to the women,” said Dr Catherine Strong.

“The men were much more likely to see it as a meritocracy, while women were more inclined to see gender bias,” Dr Strong added. “Bringing about change is going to be that much harder if it is only women who even see that there is a problem. Engaging men in this issue and asking them to think about how their actions and attitudes make a difference to women in the industry is key to overcoming gender disparity.”

More key findings:

– For the women interviewed, education in the area was generally seen as necessary for pursuing screen composition as a career, or for career development and advancement towards more prestigious forms of composition work.

– Only 15% of male screen composers and a surprising 42% of female composers reported formal screen composition training.

– Only 14% of men said they knew of any instances of gender discrimination against people other than themselves in the industry, compared to 40% of women.

– Women were much more likely to describe screen composers as being ‘Almost all male’, with 75% choosing this option, compared to 44% of men.

Designed to question the relationships between gender norms and career expectations, the research has incited a raft of initiatives from APRA AMCOS to combat the findings.

APRA AMCOS’ initiatives include:

– The launching of mentoring and skills development programs. At least half the mentors will be men, with funds allocated to cover mentee’s travel and living expenses.

– The goal of doubling annual female membership applications within three years, a year on year increase of 25 per cent new female members.

– APRA AMCOS will immediately execute a 40/40/20 measure on all membership programs. This will ensure that within the medium term, at least 40% of the judges involved in APRA’s suite of awards are female. A minimum 40% threshold will be applied to the Ambassadors’ program (currently at 30%), SongMakers (currently 25% of mentors are female) and SongHubs (currently 39%). At least 40% of presenters and performers at all awards, workshops and membership events will now be female.

– APRA Music Grants extended to external programs will be strictly allocated to grant applications showing at least 40% female participation.