Women, Money, Success and The Bechdel Test

The year is flying by. April is speeding to a close as I finish up the bulk of the music on a very cool project for the V&A Museum down in London. More about this challenging experience in later posts nearer the time the exhibition will open…

I’m starting work on a new feature film in May. Again, more about that when it’s underway.

The theme of women in society is quite heavily featured in both of these projects. With the recently highly successful Everyday Sexism campaign, the reality of what it means to be female in today’s society is very much the flavour of the day. I don’t think I’ve written much (or anything at all) about this here. I think, on the whole, I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with men and women for whom equality is second nature, whether in the face of sexism, racism, homophobia… it very rarely has become an issue. But then this interesting article turned up in my feed and I did a double take – I wondered if some form of insidious, culturally-accepted sexism had affected me without realising it…

Why Women Don’t Ask For More Money

“…When women advocate for themselves, they have to navigate more than a higher salary: They’re managing their reputation, too. Women worry that pushing for more money will damage their image. Research shows they’re right to be concerned: Both male and female managers are less likely to want to work with women who negotiate during a job interview.”

The article is from a management, business, officey world (is there a catch-all word for this? Not media, anyway) but negotiating fees as a freelancer is never easy in any capacity, especially media where you’re supposed to love what you do so much you’d do it for free, and money is a dirty word. No matter what anyone tells you, there is no industry-standard per-minute rate for music composition. There are just too many factors to take into account. BASCA did a survey last year illustrating how varied the fees are that are paid to composers across a wide variety of media and segregated it by region too (UK, Europe, US, other) which was eye-opening.

But is it even more difficult for me because I’m a woman?

The variables are too intertwined for me to know for certain – the only way to know for sure is to compare a male composer a similar life experience and personality and see if they’re asking for and making more money. I certainly don’t feel more inclined to ask for a low fee because I want people to like me, but I do want respect and repeat business, so I don’t want to piss anyone off – so it’s more of a practical consideration.

I’m very open with my negotiations – I’m more of an asker than a guesser so whilst there’s always a little bit of nerves involved in stating a fee without any sort of hint from the other party what their budget might be, I’ve become used to that uncomfortable sensation. It kind of becomes exhilarating after a while. It is a negotiation, after all, a back-and-forth – the other side is always expected to come back with a counter offer in this scenario. It’s not personal, it’s business.

Another interesting women-centric post…

The 7 habits of successful women

Leila Johnston, aka Final Bullet, gets all sorts of awesome stuff done, has brilliant left-field ideas about technology, media and art, and has a brutal sense of humour. I spoke at one of her recent events; the camera failed before my talk so you’re saved from listening to me witter on about the nature of magical reality and how to make the audience cry (and laugh and feel all the other emotions) through the medium of music in Slung Low‘s shows.

This post is exemplary of her style. Read the whole lot. It’s brilliant. I agree with it all.

And in a bit of a left-field segue...

The Writers’ Blog Tour

The lovely John Hunter writes about his writing as part of an international, informal, tag-your-writing-mates, chain-letter-style blog tour, answering four questions about his work. I get a mention so I had to return the favour! John writes dead interesting female characters, is massively about the equality of his characters – that they’re people, not just a set of stereotypical genital-carriers, and, more importantly, his stories always (if memory serves) pass the The Bechdel Test:

  1. [The story] has to have at least two [named] women in it
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something besides a man

I’ve become a wee bit obsessed with The Bechdel Test of late. Everything I watch gets scrutinized for it. It would make for an excellent drinking game were in not for the fact that the criteria so rarely occur. So I remain sober. Just as well really, got shedloads of work to do.


Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

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