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Scottish Women Inventing Music (SWIM) is a collection of music creators and industry professionals who identify as female. Membership is comprised of women working in all areas and genres of music, who are committed to achieving a level playing field for women, pushing for gender equality across the music industry.

We spoke to SWIM's Director and founder Hilary Brooks, who kindly gave us more insight into what SWIM is and what their aims are.

Q: When was SWIM set up, by whom and why ?


HB: SWIM was set up in December 2016 by Hilary Brooks, a Scottish composer and musical director, after she attended a meeting of women composers in London. At that meeting, the PRS Foundation CEO Vanessa Reed revealed statistics from the first gender equality report ever carried out on the music industry in the UK.  The stats were shocking."  


Q: There is a male/female disparity in most professions, careers etc..how is it evidenced in music ?


"Stats include:-

Less than 15% of registered songwriters and composers are women .

Female artists typically makeup 14% of festival lineups.

Less than 2.5% of classical works performed on stages is by women.

Less than 16% of label owners are women. "


Q: What is SWIM doing to redress this ?


"SWIM advocates for a level playing field of opportunities and pay across the music industry. SWIM offers a space for volunteers to network, online and in the real world. Women working across all musical genres, from all backgrounds, (ages 12-17 can join for free) and from all areas of the business. Onstage and offstage, we work to put women centre stage,  promoting our membership by enhancing visibility,  collaborating with conferences and festivals and finding new and exciting ways to get our message out.  SWIM is embedding itself into the industry; from having a presence on the Parliamentary group for Music to talking to the public at gigs."

Q: What can we all do ?

"In your work place and at concerts and gigs, please consider the gender equality and diversity of groups... is it a fair representation? If yes, congratulate the bosses/organisers. Check your own subconscious bias. Support us by donating to  SWIM on our website."


Q: What are your plans for 2020 and how can more people get involved ?

 "We plan to increase our reach throughout Scotland in 2020 and fully embed SWIM into the industry and the culture of Scotland. Our first pilot project for 12-17 year olds launched on Saturday, 22 February at the Glad Cafe in Glasgow.  


It is a brand new initiative to help nurture, educate and mentor girls and young women in all aspects of the music industry. 

If you are a woman or identify as female and work in the industry, please join SWIM. There is a fee of £5 p.a. This allows access to a growing database of members, access to all members meetings and a chance to advocate for equality and make a difference.  We have a growing presence across all socials and produce a members newsletter monthly


If you’d like to support us you can join as a supporter on our website and you will receive our monthly supporters newsletter."




Q: Music Festivals still seem to feature predominantly male artists. Is there something we all can do to change this to make sure there is an equal balance ?


"Yes. Being aware of the gender of the line ups before buying tickets for festivals is the first step.  The choice is yours whether to go to see particular artists or not. There is no good reason in 2020 for festivals not to move towards gender equality.


Please consider supporting festivals that are signed up to the international Keychange Pledge for 50:50 gender equality on stage by 2022.



See www.keychange.eu Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not."

Wishing everyone at SWIM every success in 2020 and beyond

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Photo Credit: Charlene Kerr
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