International Womens Day 2018

International Women's Day Collage

Today Sound and Music is launching a month-long programme of activities to mark and celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 (8th March).

The past twelve months have been particularly momentous for debates around gender equality, with the cultural sector often in the foreground.  Beyond well-publicised scandals, the sheer prevalence of sexual harassment in the music industry is now receiving greater attention. A survey was launched by the Incorporated Society of Musicians in November 2017, publishing its interim findings the following month. In December, an investigation for the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme interviewed a range of women in the music industry, giving a sense of how widespread sexual harassment remains, and how entangled in the power relationships that often shape musical careers.

In new music, institutions seeking to combat unequal opportunities are experimenting with a range of approaches: some advocate anonymous selection processes, though critics argue these merely return lists reflecting - and entrenching - the imbalances of the sector. Commitments to equal representation are also increasingly common, with Bergen’s Borealis Festival and the Darmstadt Summer School among those taking this approach in 2018. This week a total of 45 music industry conferences and festivals backed PRSF’s Keychange initiative, committing to equal representation by 2022.

As in previous years, we will be taking the opportunity of International Women’s Day to publish our data and insights, review ongoing debates, and most importantly highlight some of the incredible work produced every day by women in new music, from the UK and beyond.


  1. We will be profiling #afemalecomposeraday both past and present on the British Music Collection, throughout the month of March and paying special attention to International Women’s Day on Thursday 8th March. The series will highlight the diversity of themes and perspectives encompassed in the work of female composers, and emphasise their ongoing and often unrecognised influence across the UK.
  2. A special ‘sound collection’ has been produced for Minute of Listening, the organisation’s platform for creative and active listening aimed at primary school children: introducing young ears to female composers and to the breadth of their practices from an early age. Featuring music by Anna Meredith, Daphne Oram, Pauline Oliveros, Judith Weir and many others.
  3. On 8th March, we will be publishing a special edition of the Sound and Music podcast with Shama Rahman, Sarah Sayeed, Nicola LeFanu and Erika Fox. In this episode we ask how feminism, motherhood and struggles for gender equality intersect with life as a composer.


Sound and Music is privileged to work with and support some of the most talented female composers making music today, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them for continuing to inspire us. #pressforprogress

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