Where are the Women?
(a study of women university level composition teachers in Western
Europe with suggestions for closer international cooperation)
by Reinhold Degenhart and William Osborne
As published in three journals:
--Journal of the International Alliance for Women In Music (Vol. 5, Nos. 2/3 1999)
--VivaVoce (No. 51, December 1999)
--clingKlong (No. 44, Frühling/printemps 2000)
There are only 16 university-level composition teachers with full-time, permanent contracts among western Europe’s 386 million people. Twelve western European countries do not have a single woman teaching composition at the university level.
Among women in music, there are few groups that could have a stronger effect on society than those who teach composition at the university level. They have been given the voice and social status to genuinely affect the music world, but have little identity as a collective. We have created this listing of women with substantial positions as teachers of composition in Western Europe, to facilitate closer international cooperation among women musicians. This information will also be of use to students wishing to study in a foreign country. It also sheds an alarming light on how poorly women are represented as university level composition teachers.
In our listing we include all women whose main area of teaching is music composition, and who are full time, permanent employees at university level educational institutions. By “main area”, we mean those who teach principally composition. By “full time”, we mean those who receive a full time salary. By “permanent”, we mean those who can plan to hold their jobs indefinitely. And by “university level”, we mean any form of tertiary level education, such as universities, colleges, conservatories, Hochschulen, etc.
In our survey we also asked for the names of women with part time, permanent positions, if such appointments were a norm for both men and women within a given country. Interestingly, we did not find any women with part time, permanent positions as composition teachers. Perhaps this is because many college teachers receive full time salaries even if they have only limited work requirements at
There are many additional women who teach various aspects of music theory at the university level, but we have not included them. Rightly or wrongly, teachers in those fields often have less status than those who teach composition, and their positions are often not permanent, which makes an accurate listing difficult to create. And often, those teachers are not composers, but rather theorists. We also wanted to create a manageable focus for our study, which would provide the exact names and addresses for those women who have the most influence concerning the acceptance of composition students. This should be useful to those wishing to study composition abroad.
It is difficult to collect accurate information for eighteen countries speaking eleven different languages. The music almanacs and similar sources for information concerning composition professorships for these countries are hopelessly inaccurate or out of date, if they are available at all. They also often say very little about what the employees actually teach, or about their status.
We thus decided to contact informed, reliable sources in each country and ask them to either provide, or help collect, the necessary data for us (though it should be remembered that we are responsible for any errros.) These contacts are listed in appendix 2. In some cases, they might be able to provide additional information about studying in a particular country. They could also be useful sources for questions concerning the status of women in music in their countries. Many of them would also be excellent members of a core group for establishing a stronger international network among women in music.
Considering the difficulties of our undertaking, it is possible that some names are missing, but we feel the listing is essentially accurate. In cases of doubt, we asked secondary sources for corroboration and additions. In numerous cases, we contacted individual composers and schools to confirm information. If you have additions or updates, please carefully consider the criteria for inclusion in the listing, and let William Osborne know at.
We found only 16 women with full time, permanent positions as university level composition teachers in Western Europe, out of a total population of 386 million people. The statistics are given in the table below:
(Stand: April 1999. The names and addresses of the teachers are included in appendix 1.)
The 16 to 385,825,000 ratio results in only one woman composition professor for every 24.1 million people. Twelve Western European countries do not have any women at all teaching university level composition in full time, permanent positions. (In fact, our sources did not report any women teaching university level composition at all, even in part time, temporary positions in any of these societies.) The zero category countries are listed together in the table below:
These countries represent a combined population of 135,006,000 people, and include some of the world’s richest and most socially progressive nations, such as Holland, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, and Sweden. The most astounding case is France, which has 58 million citizens, and which reportedly spends more money per capita on the arts than any other country in the world, but which does not have a single woman teaching university level composition.
A Brief Analysis of the Data
We did not survey the number of men with such positions in Western Europe, but the numbers seem to indicate that women composers have considerably less than 10% of the full time, permanent positions. This would be consistent with the numbers for the United States. On May 1, 1995, CMS Publications reported a total of 1,754 teachers of composition in all U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities. According to an analysis of the data conducted by Casper Sunn, only 171 (or less than 10%) were women.
To understand these very low numbers for Western Europe, it must be remembered that the general status of women in their universities is often low in many fields besides music. Even though Germany is above the European norm for women composition teachers, in 1997, at the University of Hamburg, women represented only 9.7% of the professors in all fields as a whole. And at the University of Cologne the overall representation of women professors was only 7.9%. At the University of Tübingen it was only 6,3%. The averages for women in the U.S., in all fields taken as a whole, is somewhat higher. In 1997-98, women represented 46.8% of the assistant professors (the professions full time entry position), but only18.7% of the full professors.
As alarming as this general representation is, the numbers for composition are even worse. Since women appear to have less than 10% of the composition teaching positions in the U.S, they are far below the averages for all fields taken as a whole. Similar patterns are found in Europe. This helps explain why there are only 16 women (out of a population of 386 million) who have full time, permanent, positions as composition teachers at the university level. Again, we see music lagging behind the progress being made in the rest of society.
The low representation of women as university teachers is also of concern, since women represent the majority of students in many countries. In Germany, for example, women represented 52.6% of the student body at the University of Cologne in 1997—a trend found in most German universities. In 1995, women in the United States represented 55% of people awarded bachelor’s degrees, 55% of the masters’, and 39% of the doctorates. In 1996 (the last year for which statistics are available), there were 8.4 million women and only 6.7 million men enrolled in college in the U.S.A.. And by 2007, the Department of Education projects that the gender gap will be larger, with 9.2 million women and only 6.9 million men. All of these statistics reveal that women have every right to demand a larger role as university level teachers.
Possible Solutions Through Creating a Stronger International Network
There has been discussion among some women-in-music organizations (such as the Internationale Arbeitskreis Frau und Musik) as to whether their mission has been fulfilled, and whether they should disband. The alarming statistics concerning composition teachers suggest that much work still lies ahead, and that the mission of women-in-music organizations is far from completed.
Generally speaking, both the music industry and the music world’s professional societies, are being organized into ever more closely knit international networks. If women are going to obtain a just position in these structures, they must also form strong networks for international cooperation and advocacy. The international congresses organized by various women-in-music organizations are an important step in this direction. Here are six specific suggestions for improving international collaboration among women in music, derived from our experiences collecting the data for this study:
1. Multi-lingual Conferences. We found that our contacts in Italy, France, and Spain often did not speak English (or German). This trend holds true for many in those societies. It might be helpful to consider this when organizing international conferences outside of those countries. Translators should be included in at least some of the presentations, and/or an ample number of events presented in a second language, such as French, which is one of the most commonly shared languages in the “Latin” countries. If the notices for these congresses were printed in English and in one of the romance languages, it would reach the widest possible public.
2. A Committee for International Cooperation. A committee for closer international cooperation might be formed under the auspices of several women-in-music organizations. It should include representatives from organizations such as the IAWM, Frau und Musik Internationaler Arbeitskreis e.V., Mujeres en la Musica Asociacion, Forum Musique et Femmes, Suonodonne Italia, the Association of Canadian Women Composers, the International Women’s Brass Conference, Stichting Vrouw en Muziek, the Federation of Women Composers in Japan, Women in Music (Britian) and others, structured into a well organized international network. Goals, methods, and timetables for closer cooperation should be discussed and established.
3. International Symposia for Composition Teachers. International symposia might be held for women who are university level composition teachers at the congresses for women in music. This would allow the exchange of ideas and perspectives concerning pedagogy and the status of women musicians in universities from an international perspective. An important topic would be the consideration of why women are so poorly represented as composition teachers, and how the situation could be improved. A form of collective, international advocacy might be instigated.
4. Closer Cooperation Among the Journals. The journals of the various women in music organizations might consider devoting at least one page to a review of the contents of journals and activities from other countries. For example, America’s IAWM Journal, Germany’s VivaVoce, Switzerland’s clingKlong, and other such publications, might provide a brief summation of the contents of each others journals—something like a listing of the major articles and scheduled events. This would be useful to scholars, and also tell the readers something about the activities and concerns of women musicians in other countries, thus creating a stronger sense of international community and cooperation. During our study, for example, we discovered a festival for women composers in Spain that was about to take place that few in the international community knew about.
5. Introduce Foreign Composers. The journals in various countries might use some space to regularly introduce composers from other countries to their readers. As one option, this might be done in an interview format in which three or four composers from different countries answer common questions. (In the age of email and faxes, this is easily realizable.) It would be interesting, for example, to do a series with the 16 women composition professors of Western Europe. How would Teresa Catalán of Spain, Annette van de Gorne of Belgium, Adriana Hölsky of Germany, and and Eibhlis Farrell of Irland answer questions about music, their experiences as composers, and their views about teaching. What would the similarities and differences be?
6. Collect More Empirical Data. Much more work needs to be done collecting empirical data about the status of women in music. Gender theory is most convincing when it is associated with strong empirical evidence. This information is also essential for advocacy. Many of our contacts had only the vaguest idea about who the women composition teachers were in their societies, and sometimes no idea at all. It is difficult to work for the rights of women in music when we have no idea of what their status really is.
Appendix 1: A listing of the teachers. (Stand: April 1999)
Appendix 2: Sources and Contacts
To update information or add your name to this list contact William Osborne at:
Prof. Elena Ostleitner
Institut fuer Musiksoziologie
Hochschule fuer Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien
tel: +43 1 513 76 00 25
fax: +43 1 513 76 0042
phone: +43 2682 63 734
fax: +43 2682 63 73 44
Rue Leon Dekaise 6
tel: +32 10 41 4695
Kvinder I Musik (Women in Music)
The Royal Danish Academy of Music
Niels Brocksgade 1
1574 Copenhagen V
tel. wk. +45 33 69 22 46
fax: +45 33 14 09 11
Pirkko Marjatta Moisala
Dept. of Musicology
Abo Akademi University
tel/fax:0033 325 03 08 45
15, Ave. Hoche
tel: +33 1 422 553 14
fax: +31 1 435 978 22
Naumberg Str. 40
tel. +49 561 89 73 52
fax +49 561 83 472
International Arbeitskreis e.V.
Frau und Musik
Naumburger Str. 40
tel. wk: +49 0561 89 000 61
fax: +49 0561 893642
Balkan Committee of Music
142 10 NEA Ionia
tel: +30 1 2824 894
fax: +30 1 2844 588
Stichtung Vrouw en Muziek
1091 RV Amsterdam
tel. wk: +31 20 694 7317
fax: +31 20 694 7258
fax: +31 20 694 47 258
tel. wk: +354 568 3122
fax: + 354 568 3124
1 Avondale Rd.
tel. wk: +353 91 522867
fax: +353 91 582153
Contemporary Music Centre
95 Lower Baggot Street
tel. wk: +353 1 661 2105
fax: +353 1 676 2639
Via Catalani 67
tel/fax: +39 2 268 23 666
Fondazione Adkins Chiti: Donne in Musica
Patricia Adkins-Chiti, Presidente
Piazza Trento e Trieste
03015 Fiuggi Citta (Fr)
tel. wk: +39 6 35 348 533
fax: +39 6 35 348 533
Boite Postale 818
tel: +35 22 41095
fax: +35 22 41 079
Maja S. K. Ratkje
tel. +47 22 353492
fax: +47 22 385879
Maria de Alvear
Werder Str. 21
tel/fax: + 221 510 72 66
Conservatorio Superior de Zavagoza
San Miquele 32
tel: +34 976 28 07 42
Jan Olof Rudeln
Swedish Music Information Center
fax: +46 8 78 395 10
President of the FrauenMusikForum
tel-fax: +61 332 15 19
3000 Bern 7
tel/fax: +41 31 331 1941
Department of Music
tel. hm: +44 171 935 5937
fax: +44 171 873 7348
Department of Music
University of Reading
35 Upper Redlands Road
Reading RG1 5JE.
tel. wk: +44 181 761 9677
fax: +44 181 761 9677
 The only possible exception to this rule was mentioned was the United Kingdom. We found, however, that all women with permanent contracts there had full time positions.
 In most Western European countries, the divisions between composition and theory might be more distinct than in the U.S. Composition, for example, is not considered a truly academic discipline in most European schools, and it is very rare that they offer Doctoral programs for composers.
 The population statistics are taken from the U.S Census Bureau’s website http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idbsum.html
 Betsy Jolas taught at the Conservatoire Natioanl Superieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris but recently resigned. Michèle Reverdy teaches orchstration at the same institution, but not composition.
 Unlike our study, these numbers for the U.S. include part time, temporary positions by employees who might not teach composition as their main subject area, but the relative proportions for people who meet our criteria are probably similar.
 Frauenförderung an der Universität Hamburg, (Die Frauenbeauftragten des Akademischen Senatas der Universität Hamburg: 7. Bericht, 1997):7. These numbers include all professors in categories C-2 to C-4 in all fields excluding medicine.
 Kölner Forum: Frauen in Bewegung, (Die Frauenbeafutragten der Fachhochschule Köln: Ausgabe I/98): 62. These numbers include all professors in categories C-2 to C-4 in all fields excluding medicine.
 “Professorinnen sind selten”, Schwäbische Zeitung (December 12, 1998).
 The statistics are taken from the website of the American Association of University Professors http://www.aaup.org/Wrepup.htm
 Kölner Forum: Frauen in Bewegung, (Die Frauenbeafutragten der Fachhochschule Köln: Ausgabe I/98): 58.
 U.S Census Bureau website http:www.census.gov/Press-Release/cb98-226.html
 “U.S. Colleges Begin to Ask, ‘Where Have the Men Gone’”, New York Times (December 6, 1998).