Happy International Women’s Day! To help celebrate, we’ve put together this list of ensembles and organisations that are making waves in the fight for gender equality. 

  1. Her Ensemble: Founded by Ellie Consta during the pandemic, Her Ensemble is the UK’s first women and non-binary string orchestra. Set up to shine a light upon performers from marginalised genders as well as promoting the swathes of overlooked music by female composers, Her Ensemble are quickly establishing themselves as a new and exciting group. Not content with only shaking up established norms in programming, the ensemble are also challenging outdated and old fashioned views around dress code and presentation to reach new levels of authenticity. Hear Her Ensemble at the Stoller Hall in Manchester tonight, or in Barnes, London on 12th March.

  2. The F List: After learning how few women are financially supported by the music industry in comparison to men, Vick Bain created the F-List, an online directory of the UK’s Female and Gender-expansive musicians. The list now contains over 5000 musicians, with the aim of providing a place where promoters and other musicians can find female artists outside of their own networks. Outside of their activity as a directory, the F-List provide career development opportunities for members as well as doing important advocacy work within the industry. Search the F-List directory.

  3. SWAP’ra: Short for Supporting Women and Parents in Opera, SWAP’ra is an organisation which seeks to address gender inequality in the opera industry. Their work centres around raising awareness of how the music industry currently excludes women and parents, and working to shift industry perspectives to improve gender and parent representation. This year, their Forgotten Voices Project, curated as part of the Oxford Lieder festival, spotlights women composers. Book now for the Oxford Lieder Festival, this month.

  4. Gender in the Large and Shiny Instruments is the newest initiative on this list, set up as a ‘playful response’ to the lack of women in brass and percussion jobs across the music industry. Since their launch in November 2021, founders Letty Scott and Beth Higham-Edwards have been devising workshops and resources for children and young people to show that it isn’t just men who play the large and shiny instruments! Catch Letty and Beth on Three in a Bar podcast, in today's latest episode.

  5. Donne UK is a charity working to promote diversity and inclusion by empowering women in music. Gabriella Di Laccio, Donne’s founder and the curator of the Big List of Women Composers, describes the charity’s job as ‘amplifying role models from the past and present and inspiring more women in their careers.’ Head straight to the Big List to find out about 5000 women composers, organised by century, country and genre. As well as providing online resources, they also offer bespoke consultancy for individuals and organisations seeking to diversify their repertoire. Read their newly published research on Equality and Diversity in Concert Halls, or search The Big List here.

Read more: We Are Here! Stage Director Sophie Gilpin asks what needs to change for women in music?