Last week Emma talked about developments to EQ the gender imbalance in the film industry. It’s no secret that there is a gender gap in the tech side of the music industry as well. Women make up just 5% to 7% of audio engineers and producers, according to reports by the Audio Engineering Society. Some organisations report even lower numbers.
In a study of popular songs from 2012 to 2018, researchers from USC Annenberg found that women make up 21.7% of artists, 12.3% of songwriters, and just 2.1% of producers. To put that last number a different way, that’s a ratio of 47 men to 1 woman.
The proportion of female producers working in the music industry since 2012…
Out of the 871 producers studied, just 4 were women of color.
That is a lot of ground to make up, however, I’m feeling inspired and optimistic. Here’s why:
It’s Easier To Hire A Sound Girl
In 2018, SoundGirls and Spotify launched makeitEQL.com, a directory dedicated to amplifying professional women in audio. You can search for female and non-binary (NB) engineers and producers by location and skill set. If you’re a woman, trans, or NB, you can upload your resume and create a profile for free. Imogen Heap has recently said this on the EQL Blog…
"I love this directory! I personally don't choose the person to work with for their gender, but for their work and it should be easy to have all of the eligible world's population taken into account for a job! Look forward to seeing the EQL database grow as I just checked and you’re missing one of the first engineers I ever worked with, Avril Mackintosh!! Who is excellent! There are oh so so many."
Imogen is currently traveling the world on the Mycelia World Tour, her first world tour in eight years, to play live shows filled with new technology performing both solo and with Guy Sigsworth and for this tour, one of her sound engineers was recommended through SoundGirls.
New Leadership at AES
The new President of the Audio Engineering Society is Nadja Wallaszkovits, an Austrian woman who has been involved with AES for more than 25 years in many different positions. Her term as president began January 1st, 2019 making her the fourth female AES president. But she wasn’t the only woman elected! Leslie Gaston-Bird, Jessica Livingstone, and Piper Payne were all elected as governors for the coming two years, as well as Agnieszka Roginska, who is next year's president-elect.
Inclusion At The Grammys
The Grammys are another area where things look bleak. 10.4% of Grammy nominees from 2013 to 2019 were female whereas 89.6% were male.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. This month, the Recording Academy's Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion announced the Producer & Engineer Inclusion Initiative, which asks that musicians, record labels and others consider at least two female producers or engineers when working on a project, whether it's a song or an album. Considering that no woman has ever won the Grammy for Producer of the Year (Non-Classical), this initiative is huge.
In the award’s 44-year history, there have been only seven female nominees for Producer of the Year (Non-Classical): Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Paula Cole, Lauryn Hill, Sheryl Crow, Lauren Christy, and this year, Linda Perry is the first female nominee in 15 years. Some artists that have committed to the initiative are: Lady Gaga, Pearl Jam, Julia Michaels, Kacey Musgraves, Pharrell, Common, Ariana Grande, and more. However last night Linda Perry wasn’t successful, the award for Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) went to Pharrell Williams.
Staying with the Grammys last night, it was good to see a significant increase in the number of women receiving Grammy Awards. Kacey Musgraves, Dua Lipa, Cardi B and Lady Gaga were among those receiving Grammys last night. Cardi B made history as the first solo female artist to win best rap album.
British pop star Dua Lipa won the best new artist Grammy. She said: “I guess this year we've really stepped up”, which has been taken as a dig at Grammys president Neil Portnow, who last year tried to deflect criticism of the lack of female winners by saying women needed to "step up" in order to be considered. This year Portnow appeared on stage at this year's ceremony to apologise, saying: "This past year I've been reminded that if coming face to a face with an issue opens your eyes wide enough it makes you more committed to bring change."
Speaking backstage, Dua responded saying: "Being in the new artist category and having so many female artists nominated is a big change and it's a change we want to see for many years to come. It's a big difference from previous years, it only felt right because there were so many artists on there that I love and admire."
Although Mary Mazurek (pictured below) was nominated for the Best Engineered Album, Classical Grammy alongside Bill Maylone for “Liquid Melancholy - Clarinet Music Of James M. Stephenson” unfortunately they lost out to Shawn Murphy & Nick Squire for their recording of Andris Nelsons & Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Organizations Dedicated To Amplifying Women in Audio
Women’s Audio Mission is a San Francisco/Oakland-based nonprofit organization that uses music and media to attract over 1,500 underserved women and girls every year to STEM and creative technology studies. Following on from our Problem With Women In Audio article we invited inviting Terri Winston from WAM onto Podcast 280 in August 2017. Have a listen to find out more about WAM.
SoundGirls was established in 2013 to provide women working in audio a community that offers support and advice, and for empowerment and inspiration. Now, it is an international organization with over 6,000 members.
The SWIM (Smart Women in Music) Fund, led by Robin Walenta, NAMM Chair and President and CEO of West Music Co, Crystal Morris, President and CEO of Gator Cases, and DeDe Heid, Executive Vice President of Heid Music, aims to support women in the industry in three key areas: offering professional development opportunities at The NAMM Show and Summer NAMM; job shadowing of female leaders at industry events; and in-company residencies.
This Cool Way To Be A Mentor
Girls Rock Camp Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to generating support and funding for Girls Rock Camps across the United States. Attendees learn an instrument and form a band with other campers over the course of a camp session. They create an original song and perform it at a live music venue at the end of camp. Camps first started popping up in 2001 but the Foundation was officially founded in 2014. This year, I am excited to be teaching recording and mixing classes for my local Girls Rock Camp!
This visible push to encourage women to enter the industry is important. Each new generation of producers and engineers will be more diverse than the last because they will see more people who look like them making moves in music, and that is exciting to me.