October 28, 2021

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Sexual Harassment in Music Is Top Issue for Women: Study

The first is that “gendered expectations have skewed recognition and reward in the music industry,” with 81% of women surveyed reporting that they think it’s harder for female artists to get recognition than male artists. Additionally, almost two-thirds of female creators identified sexual harassment or objectification as a major issue. The study labeled it “by far the most widely-cited problem.”

The study notes that this sexualization and objectification “are a consequence (or symptom) of unbalanced power dynamics” as they relate to as ageism (reported by 38% of the women polled), lack of access to male-dominated industry resources (36%) and lower pay (27%). Challenges related to tokenism, the fabrication of competition between female artists and treatment of the problem with lip service only are also cited as key issues facing women in music.

The study concludes that these challenges are “symptomatic of deeper issues of systemic male dominance permeating industry attitudes and behaviors,” with over 90% of respondents reporting that they had experienced unconscious bias during their careers. 84% of women polled reported that they believe that women are still expected to take on the primary role of parenting duties and that the music industry prioritizes young female artists, which is “partly a symptom of the industry’s youth obsession, but also so that women become successful before they are presumed to decide to take on the role of motherhood.”

In terms of solutions, respondents noted that they most desire changes to come from “within organizations and from leaders across the music industry through diversity, policies and culture,” with 42% stating this as one of the best ways to encourage more women into the industry. Thirty eight percent of female music makers want to see these changes come as a result of legislation, while 35% say an effective way to create change is via mentorship programs where women work with other women.

“We have a long way to go still before there is no more need for reports such as these,” writes Imogen Heap in an introduction to the study. “There are many incredibly talented people across the industry who come from diverse backgrounds and still remain the minority.”

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