According to social media and the newspapers this week, it has been discovered that the music industry has a gender equality problem, with only 17.5 percent of songwriters being nominated for best single since 1999 being women.
It might be obvious to some people that the music industry is largely male-dominated, but please do not present this to anyone as new information. The music industry has been suffering gender equality issues since its inception in the western world in the early 1930s. This has given the world 88 years to notice the problem, and only in the era of the gender equality high-horsemen of the apocalypse has it actually been addressed.
As a supporter of equal rights for ALL human beings and a certified music producer, audio engineer, songwriter and musician (who also happens to be female), I would like to make it clear that despite the gender equality issue that women in the industry have been “suffering” since the dawn of time, an incredible number of women have broken the stereotype and have worked incredibly hard to bridge this gap. If it weren’t for those women, I know myself and the other five or six women I encountered in my courses at college and university certainly wouldn’t have even been looked at as a viable candidate for that profession.
As a woman, my entire time at college and university, and especially my time as a music manager, was a constant fight. It was a struggle to keep my voice heard, it was a struggle to make sure I rose above the typicalities of the industry, it was a struggle not to spit feathers and jeopardise my reputation over the normalcy of being hung up on time and again whilst trying to book shows for the simple fact that I was a “silly little girl in a man's world” (yes, a venue manager once said that to me).
If it weren’t for the support of some of my fellow male musicians and close friends such as: my father, brother, honorary big brothers (you know exactly who you are), my godfather, my dad’s best friend and my two male university classmates (I will never forget our time as production puff girls, gents), I would never have had the support I needed within this little riff-driven world to push myself as hard as I could to stand alongside them.
If it weren’t for the continued support of the two female tutors (and most, but not all of the male ones) at college and university who inspired me every single day to keep fighting for my place in this industry, I might have given up.
The gender equality problem in the music industry is indeed a problem, but it has been a problem throughout the entire existence of the music industry. We owe it to the female songwriters, techs, producers, promoters, managers, engineers, roadies, musicians, tutors, acousticians, photographers and the like to stop acting as if this is a new issue. We owe it to them to show our respect for the hard work they’ve put into being heard and we owe it to them to stop acting as if they need saving all of a sudden. Five minutes ago, hardly anyone cared except the people involved in the issue. It shouldn’t be taking a worldwide equality movement to suddenly be noticing all of the equality issues in the world.
Inequality, be it gender related or world related has been a problem since the dawn of time. Instead of pretending to be shocked and making money off of headlines about issues some of us are already fighting, why not muck in and join the fight. Stop presenting statistics, and start changing them.
Every single person on this planet deserves to be treated equally, it’s not about just one industry, or one movement or one awards show. This problem is worldwide and we cannot deny or glaze over the fact that it has made more progress in the past century alone than we ever could have expected.
The only way this problem is ever going to be solved is if everyone starts respecting each other and stops fighting over the little things.
Women in the music industry have always been at a disadvantage. Stop pretending it’s only just coming to your attention.
Thanks for reading.