Despite the prominence of superstars such as Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and Adele, female artists remain sorely underrepresented in the mainstream music business. That’s according to a study of that examined the gender balance among performers, songwriters and producers of top Billboard-charting songs during the past six years.
The study spearheaded by Dr. Stacy Smith of Annenberg/USC’s Inclusion Initiative found that 83.2% of the artists associated with Billboard’s top 100 songs for 2017 were men — a six-year low compared to the breakdown for the same criteria in 2016 (28.1%) or 2012 (22.7%).
Among the credited songwriters for the 600 songs surveyed, only 12.3% were women. The ratio stayed consistent throughout the six-year span of the study.
Among producers, the study covered the 300 top Billboard-charting songs over the past three years. Some 98% of the producers were men, a ratio of 49.1 to 1 that was consistent over the study period.
The study also examined the gender breakdown of Grammy Award nominees between 2013 and this year. Of the 899 individuals nominated, only 9.3% were women. Women were most likely to be nommed in the best new artist category or for song of the year. No women have secured nominations for producer of the year during the past six years.
Smith is known for her studies of female representation in the film and television business. The decision to crunch the numbers in music was a natural outgrowth of the Annenberg initiative to provide hard data to help inform the national discussion on gender parity concerns.
“An industry with international reach and culture‐shaping products, the music business is a place where inclusion is imperative,” the study concludes. “Addressing the deficits that currently exist will prevent this industry from being mired in the past and make it one that is moving toward the future.”
(Pictured: Taylor Swift)