The music industry still has a long way to go when it comes to gender equality. A recent study conducted by Dr Stacy L. Smith across 700 popular songs showed that between the years 2016 and 2018 there was an over 10% decrease of female artists in popular music. The same study also tells us that only 12.3% of songwriters are female and 2.1% of the tracks involved were produced by women, making the gender ratio of male producers to female producers 47 to 1.
This shocking ratio has also been demonstrated in other aspects of the music industry. Out of 1064 nominees in the five main categories for the Grammy Awards between 2013 – 2019, 89.6% were male. Glastonbury Festival’s 2019 lineup on the main stages was just 26% female and Sziget Festival 2019 had a shocking 4% female lineup.
But why is there such a huge ratio?
There have been many studies of gender equality in the music industry. One study concluded that 43% of women reported their skills were discounted and 39% said they had experienced stereotyping and sexualisation. Other studies have also shown that women feel like they are taken less seriously, have difficulty promoting themselves and little opportunity to network with other female professionals.
The music industry thinks of women as sexualised and unskilled. In an interview with The Guardian, writer and musician Emma-Lee Moss recalls the time her manager expressed “he wouldn’t be sending out my music, he would just send out my photos to labels”. Women will continue to face these dead-ends in their careers unless we change the foundation of the music industry’s core beliefs.
How can we reduce this gap?
In order for women to be taken seriously in the music industry we need the same amount of exposure at important festivals, acknowledgement at prestigious music award ceremonies and be invited to speak at public events. We need to encourage girls to pick up guitars and join bands. We need more women on the main stages to show young girls there’s a reason to believe in themselves and achieve their dreams.