It should perhaps come as no surprise that women working in a variety of professional fields face gender-specific challenges. Those who work in the American music industry are no exception.
The newly published Women in the Mix Study – released today by The Recording Academy, Arizona State University (ASU) and Berklee College of Music Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) – explores the experiences and socio-economic landscape of women and gender-broad people working in music. Built on data from a study 2019 conducted by the Berklee College of Music, the Women In The Mix study surveyed more than 1,600 professionals working in a variety of capacities – from backstage to center stage – and at all levels, with all ages, races and ethnicities responding .
The Women In The Mix study explores demographics, work experiences, career challenges, job satisfaction, family decisions, and paths to the music industry. Over 1,000 respondents also provided suggestions to improve the climate for women in music.
Ultimately, the study is designed to influence music advocates, allies and leaders to work towards a more inclusive and equitable industry, while amplifying women’s voices.
“The Women In The Mix study is a groundbreaking account of the realities and decisions we women working in music make publicly and privately every day,” said the Recording Academy co-chair. Valeisha Butterfield Jones noted. “By focusing this study on active listening, learning and creating solutions, we have provided the industry with valuable data on the barriers that affect women in music and how we can together take a stand. .”
“When you’re trying to create meaningful change, you need to speak directly to the people who will be most affected by that change and let them be part of the conversation,” added Erin Barra, Director of Popular Music at ASU; Barra co-authored the study with Mako Fitts Ward, Ph.D.; Lisa M. Anderson, Ph.D.; and Alaysia M. Brown, MS
To celebrate International Women’s Day, GRAMMY.com takes an in-depth look at some of the key findings from the Women In The Mix study.
Read the full Women In The Mix study.
Women are underrepresented, overworked and underpaid
The Women In The Mix study cites work by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, which revealed that women are severely underrepresented in the music industry, accounting for just 21.6% of artists, 12.6% of songwriters, and 2.6% of producers. The Initiative’s annual meeting Inclusion in the recording studio report found that there has been no significant increase in these numbers over the years.
More than half (57%) of Women In The Mix respondents hold two or more jobs. Twenty-four percent work between 40 and 51 hours a week, while a further 28% work more than 50 hours a week.
Thirty-six percent of respondents earn less than $40,000 a year, and almost half feel they should be further along in their careers. Almost half of respondents who identify as creators and/or performers of music reported earning less than $40,000 per year.
Around 57% of music creators feel they should be further along in their careers, compared to those working in music education (48.5%), production and event/show management/promotion touring (41.7%), the music industry (37.4%) and music. media and technology (32.9%).
Discrimination is widespread – especially for gender-broad respondents and women of color
Across all racial identities, 84% of respondents experienced discrimination. Seventy-seven percent felt they had been treated differently in the music industry because of their gender, while more than 56 percent believed their gender had affected their jobs. Music creators and performers suffered the most, with 65% experiencing discrimination. Sixty percent of respondents said they had been discriminated against because of their age.
Extended gender respondents were less satisfied than those who identified as female by a margin of 16%. They were twice as likely to earn less than $40,000 a year and felt less comfortable in their workplace by almost 18%.
Women of color reported feeling the highest level of discomfort at work and noted less support in the workplace. More than half of respondents of color felt they should be further along in their careers.
Career advancement often takes priority over parenthood
About one in two respondents said they chose not to have children or had fewer children than they wanted because of their career. Respondents with children under the age of 18 represent just under two in 10 women and gender-broad people in the music industry.
People earning more than $100,000 a year had a 27% chance of having children. Those who earn less than $40,000 a year have a 15% chance of having children. Women of color are the respondents most likely to have children, although they still said their career was a factor in their decision making about having or raising children.
Developing work-life balance should start early
While less than half of respondents said they had completed an internship during their career, 78% felt that internships had contributed to their career.
However, since internships, especially those in creative fields, are often unpaid, these opportunities may not be feasible for people without sufficient financial resources and/or support. Respondents to the study suggested paid internships as a method to address networking, access to opportunities, and work-life balance.
Respondents – many of whom work more than 40 hours a week – noted that burnout is a significant challenge. Additional and/or mandatory paid vacation days would also improve work-life balance across the industry.
Mentorships and advocacy organizations are valuable
Ninety-three percent of respondents felt that mentoring had helped their careers. These respondents were more likely to think they were where they should be in their careers and reported being satisfied with their jobs. Respondents suggested that access to quality mentorship and mentors can have a profoundly positive effect on the careers of women and gender-broad people.
Forty percent of respondents were members of advocacy organizations, while 35 percent of respondents cited professional or industry-related organizations as crucial factors for their growth and advancement. About 20 percent mentioned advocacy in their recommendations to help improve the climate for women and gender-broad people.
However, both mentoring and networking rely heavily on a person’s interpersonal skills, as well as their ability to negotiate and defend themselves. By enhancing the development of soft skills, while creating and strengthening institutional programs, supportive infrastructure, and active education, the music industry can improve the business acumen of women and gender-broad people. at the start of the employment process.
Organizations should take action and spend money
It is not enough to say that your company is committed to DEI. Respondents to the Women In The Mix study suggested hiring pledges—a commitment from hiring managers to recruit diverse and strong candidates—as a way to intentionally address access to opportunity and dismantle the gatekeeper culture.
Addressing the representation of women in music has been a longstanding priority for The Recording Academy. In 2019, the organization launched Women In The Mix, prompting hundreds of music professionals and organizations to pledge to consider at least two women in the selection process whenever a producer or an engineer is hired. That same year, The Recording Academy pledged to double the number of female voters among its voting members by 2025; the organization has achieved 60% of this target.
In 2021, the Recording Academy donated a total of $25,000 to five charities and organizations that support the growth of women and girls in production and engineering. Based on the findings of the Women In The Mix study and to help address issues of access to resources and opportunities, the Academy has pledged to donate an additional $50,000 to five organizations that support the growth of women and girls in music, including Beats By Girlz, Femme It Forward, Girls Make Beats, She Is The Music and Women’s Audio Mission.
Job satisfaction and passion for the music industry remain high
Despite challenges related to insufficient income, burnout, gatekeeper culture, sexism, and competing demands of creative vision and revenue generation, 78% of respondents to the Women In The Mix study said they felt satisfied with their careers. Even in the career categories that seem to encounter the most barriers – such as freelancers and music creators and performers – more than 80% of respondents said they were satisfied. Respondents working in the production, management and promotion of events and tours were the least satisfied, noting a satisfaction rate of 65%.
Such satisfaction may be the result of an inherent passion: more than half of respondents said their career path was due to their inherent love and enthusiasm for the music industry.
10 ways to support female musicians and creators throughout the year