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Female Songwriters are Undervalued and Underrepresented

Recently, Hollywood and the entire entertainment industry have seemingly been making headlines every other day for scandals, harassment, and lack of representation. Well, it turns out the music industry is also suffering from a huge lack in representation—especially when it comes to women. USC Annenberg conducted an investigative report to study the gender statistics within the music industry and the results are staggering. There’s a deep gender divide in the industry, with men dominating charts and award ceremonies. Of the 700 top songs on Billboard’s year-end Hot 100 chart between 2012 and 2018, 21.7 percent of the artists were female. From the list, women accounted for just 12.3 percent of songwriters and 2.1 percent of producers. At the Grammys, only 10.4 percent of nominees for the biggest awards were women from 2013 and 2019.

The researchers went a step further, interviewing 75 female songwriters to better understand their experience. More than 40 percent of the women said their colleagues dismiss their work and/or skills. Almost 40 percent have experienced stereotyping and sexualization. And 25 percent have been the only woman in the recording studio. Oof.

These results are shocking, but the leader of the study, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, pointed out a high point. “Once again this year we see a lack of female voices in popular music," she said. "However, one positive finding is that of the female performers in 2018, 73 percent were women of color. This seven-year high point reveals that the music industry is including women of color in ways that other forms of entertainment are not.”

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