Women in the Music Industry Face Underrepresentation and Gender Inequality – TommieMedia
Beyonce, Phoebe Bridgers, Lady Gaga and so many other hot female artists led me to believe that women in the music industry were thriving.
Many of my playlists are filled with women’s songs, and the majority of artists in my Apple Music library are women; however, my musical tastes do not reflect society. In fact, women are underrepresented and face discrimination in all areas of the music industry.
In a 2012-2020 USC Annenberg study looking at 900 popular songs over those years, the top male songwriter was Martin Sandberg, better known as Max Martin, with 44 credits. On the other hand, the best composer is Onika Maraj, known as Nicki Minaj, with 19 credits. Martin has written songs for big names like Minaj, The Weeknd, Justin Timberlake and many more.
What was particularly lacking in this study was the representation of female producers. In their highest performing year in 2019, female producers accounted for just 5% of all popular songs charted. To be honest, I can’t name any producers besides Jack Antonoff, but it’s disheartening that such a small percentage of female music producers make the charts.
Another department of the music industry that lacks female representation is in music awards, like the Grammys. Perhaps the male dominance of nominees and winners has something to do with the fact that judges at awards like the Grammys are all male dominated. This seems like an obvious solution – judges must be representative of the population. What valid argument could be made for saying that men should judge rewards rather than women?
A personal surprise among the 2022 Grammy nominees was the male dominance of the rap genre. I’ve definitely jammed with Kanye West and Chance the Rapper, but to me they feel like they’re on the back burner. Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Cardi B and more are rising in the rap genre, but the nominations didn’t represent that. Eleven men and three women were nominated for the rap awards.
With rap, country nominations were male-dominated and there were no female nominations in the rock category. Larkin Poe has some of the best modern rock songs I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately, women in rock are simply not nominated compared to their male counterparts.
Sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination also testify to a lack of female representation. A 2019 study from Berklee College of Music found that 78% of women working in music felt they were treated differently because of their gender.
In another study, Billboard.com found that 81% of women said they thought it was harder for female artists to be recognized than for male artists. Almost two-thirds of respondents identified sexual harassment or objectification as a major issue they face. As women, we experience these injustices on a daily basis. Out of fear for our own safety, we don’t always have the luxury of standing up against them.
The current state of equality in the music industry is frankly sad; however, there are powerful female artists and songwriters who represent the potential for future equality, including Taylor Swift, Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa.
There are also nonprofits and organizations around the world dedicated to women’s equality, especially in the music industry.
One organization worth mentioning is SheSaid.so, a global community of women, gender minorities, and music industry allies. Their mission is to “connect and empower underrepresented communities towards a more equitable music industry for everyone, one woman or gender minority at a time”.
Honestly, it’s organizations like this that give me hope for the future of women’s rights and representation. I will settle for a world where harassment and discrimination against women is not the norm.
In order to change the narrative of how women are portrayed and treated in the music industry, we all have a part to play. Hear more female artists, challenge music awards to include more women, and support organizations focused on closing the gender gap in the music industry. It’s so easy.
Ruth Moder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.