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Recent studies show women in music and audio are underrepresented

The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative's analysis of Billboard charts and Grammy nominations have revealed that women in music and audio are being marginalised

USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, founded by Dr. Stacy Smith, has analysed the Billboard Hot 100 chart from 2012 to 2018 consisting of 700 songs, discovering that women are being increasingly marginalised in the music industry.

For the first time, the report included a qualitative study, with interviews from 75 female songwriters and producers about their experiences in the studio and the industry.

The report was released February 5, and revealed that women only represented 17 percent of the charts, while female songwriters made up 12.3 percent in a test group of 100 songs, and only 2.1 per cent of those tracks had female producers, the male to female ratio being 47 to 1.

Stacy Smith told Rolling Stone: “A lot of what we are seeing is just a rinse and repeat of last year. When you look at songwriting credits, you see almost 25 percent of the 700 most popular songs have 10 male songwriters attached. That means 10 men are setting the agenda for a quarter of the most popular content being distributed lyrically in the music space.”

On a positive note, 73 percent of the small community of women who made it onto the charts came from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

“This makes music a real deviation from television, film and story-telling in streaming services [where women of colour are notably under-represented,” said Smith. “Music is the most inclusive place for women of colour.”

When taking a look into representation at awards ceremonies, the same pattern surfaces; out of the 1,064 people who were nominated for Grammys in the five main categories between 2013 to 2019, 89.6 percent were male, and 10.4 percent were female.

Despite the obvious gender gap, in 2019 the percentage of female nominees jumped to 16.4 percent from 8 percent the year before.

Last year, we interviewed Grammy-nominated producer Jenn Decilveo on working with pop star Anne-Marie, gaining an industry perspective from a seemingly rare Grammy nominee.

To support and encourage women in music and audio, or to join a community as a woman in music yourself, it’s important to keep up with dedicated initiatives like SoundGirls (specifically women in audio) and Women in Music