University of Southern California Report Examines Vast Gender Gap in the Music Industry

Stacy L. Smith, an associate professor of communication at the University of Southern California and the director of the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, has issued a series of reports on the low numbers of women in the Hollywood film and television industries. (See earlier WIAReport post.)

Now Dr. Smith and her research team have produced their first report on women in the music industry. The researchers examined the gender of the artists, songwriters, and producers of the 100 most popular songs on the year-end Billboard charts from 2012 to 2017.

The results showed that over the six-year period, 22.4 percent of the performing artists on the 600 popular songs were women. And in 2017, the percentage of women artists dropped to 16.8 percent. Dr. Smith stated that “the voices of women are missing from popular music. This is another example of what we see across the ecosystem of entertainment: Women are pushed to the margins or excluded from the creative process.”

The gender gap was even more pronounced for songwriters and producers. Women wrote 12.3 percent of the 600 popular songs and produced only 2 percent of the hit recordings. Dr. Smith points out that “the lack of female songwriters and producers means that the epidemic of invisibility we have catalogued for women in key creative roles in film and television extends to music. These agenda-setting songs are like so many other forms of entertainment — reflective of a largely male perspective.”

The researchers also looked at the gender of artists nominated for Grammy Awards for the past six years. They found that less than 10 percent of all nominees in the categories of Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Producer of the Year, and Best New Artist were women.

Dr. Smith joined the faculty at the University of Southern California in 2003. She holds a Ph.D. in communication and human development from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The full report, Inclusion in the Recording Studio? Gender and Race/Ethnicity of Artists, Songwriters & Producers Across 600 Popular Songs from 2012-2017, may be downloaded by clicking here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply