The Evolution of Women in Film


Since the beginning of film, women have been portrayed as secondary to men. We have all seen television shows and movies where the few women in the film are one-dimensional characters who barely have any lines and portray the subservient housewife or the love interest. Men were always the main characters that the film revolved around. However, since the 1970s, we have begun to make more films that center around women. They may still play the housewife or love interest, but they have more lines and act as a more vivid and rounded character instead of a prop. Especially since the beginning of the 21st century, there are numerous films that focus on women empowerment and feminism. There is a growing interest in films that feature the powerful modern-day woman, which sets an example for young girls and women everywhere.




Inspired by women in film, I have created my composition to reflect the progress that has been made over the past 50 years. If you look at the music, you can see that the song starts out with a strong tenor and bass line. There is then a dramatic middle section that contrasts the bass and soprano symbolizing women’s struggle for gender equality in film. Lastly, the song ends with a new melody that focuses on the soprano part where I attempted to depict how much progress women have made so far in film but also the possibility to make even more advancements in the future.

I would categorize my composition as avant-garde classical because it’s very modern, experimental, and unique. It’s not like music that you would listen to on a daily basis. For example, John Cage composed a piece called 4’33 where none of the musicians play for the entire performance. Some other avant-garde composers include Richard Strauss and Claude Debussy.



Call to Action:

One of the most important things about women in film is that young girls and teenage girls watch these films and use them as examples for themselves. They look up to the women they see on tv and in the movies. Therefore, they will mimic these actresses. If women are portrayed as sex objects and subordinate to men, what will these girls think? They could believe that maybe I should dress provocatively like this actress; or maybe I shouldn’t go to college; or maybe men really are emotionally and physically stronger than women; maybe I shouldn’t try to become a lawyer or a doctor. While these examples may seem a little exaggerated for today’s society, they were once extremely relevant and still are relevant today.

The scariest thing about the huge lack of gender equality in films is that most people don’t even notice. I had not even noticed it until a couple of years ago. This is not only happening on screen but also behind it. There are significantly less composers, writers, producers, and directors in film than men.

The captions (left to right) are female composers, female writers, female producers, and female directors. (Women in Film) 

These are the reasons why we need to raise awareness of women in film. Too many people are not aware of the lack of women as main characters and their discriminatory portrayal. Therefore, it is up to those of us who do believe that this is a real issue of gender equality to let others understand it so that we do not make the same mistakes in the future.



Now it’s time for you to share what you think about gender equality in film. All opinions are welcome!



I have created a playlist of female empowerment songs, artists, and female film composers.



Examples of Women in Film: 

This is the trailer for the 1975 television series Wonder Woman. It is an early representation of women’s empowerment in film.


The score for the film Jackie was composed by Mica Levi. Even in the trailer, you can hear the prominence of the music and how it influences the atmosphere of the scene. The soundtrack is also in the playlist above.


This film Hidden Figures is based off of a true story about Katherine Johnson who broke gender and racial boundaries when she joined NASA in the late fifties. It stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae.


This video is from the Women In Film organization, which promotes the involvement of women on and off the screen.



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