In February 2019, a research group from the USC Annenberg of California, USA, published a paper on the presence of women in the music industry. The paper opens with a series of figures that summarize the findings got after analysing the people involved in the creation of 700 songs released between 2012 and 2018. The landscape is not uplifting.
The paper has a quantitative focus and it had two main stages: the collection of facts to generate an overview of statistics, and the review of these statistics by a group of women. Using this method, the research team arrives to some key points that, if addressed, could improve the conditions for women in the music industry and increase female participation. Some of these conclusions are: to increase the number of women in work environments like recording studios, which, according to the people interviewed, would promote communication, collaboration and respect; generate opportunities of training, residences or internships where women can see their skill and experience recognized and acknowledged; a broader and more positive media portrayal of women in diverse roles in the industry, especially male-dominated roles like sound engineering and music producers; and working towards eliminating hiring bias.
Taken at face value, the study can look discouraging, particularly for BAME women, who, as the text points, have to deal with even more obstacles than their white peers. However, where there is room for improvement, there is a lot to be done and a lot of success to achieve. Pioneering is hard, but rewarding, and networks like Cafemnee are there to support and back up initiatives to make the industry fairer and more diverse. Let’s face these challenges with the passion we feel for music. Together, we can make the industry better for us and for everyone else.
The whole text of the study can be found here.