An American report reveals that women are still stereotyped in music

The number of top-selling female artists in the United States has increased by 2022, but the percentage of female songwriters making any kind of commercial impact remains dismal, a new study has revealed.

The sixth annual report of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative from the University of Southern California reveals that while the number of women represented on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart – which compiles the most commercially successful songs of the year – increased by 28.7% last year, to a total of 30% , only 14% of the composers represented on the list were women, which is a slight decrease from the 2021 statistic, which was 14.3%. Of the 232 producers represented on the year-end list, only 3.4% were female, and one producer was gender non-binary.

“There is good news for artists this year,” Dr. Stacy L. Smith, who led the report, said in a statement. “But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there is still a lot of work to be done before we can say that women have equal opportunities in the music industry.”

The 30% representation marks a new peak for the number of female artists on the year-end chart over the past decade, yet the statistics for songwriters and producers have largely stayed the same over the past 10 years. Since 2012 – the year in which the reference period of the Annenberg report–, the number of female songwriters represented on the Billboard year-end chart has never been higher than the 14.4% recorded in 2019.

The peak of female producers represented on the list was also recorded in 2019, when 5% of the producers on the year-end list were women. “Until female and male artists hire female songwriters and producers, the numbers won’t change,” Smith said. “It’s about more than allowing an artist to credit themselves on a song, it’s about identifying talent and casting women in these roles. That’s the only way we’re going to see change happen.”

Most of the artists appearing on the 2022 year-end list come from a racially underrepresented background –a decrease of 6.6 percentage points compared to 2021 and 8.4 percentage points compared to 2020 – and 65% of artists from those backgrounds were women.

In its analysis of Grammy Award nominees, the report found that just 13.9% of individual nominees were female, with one nominee being non-binary.

In his conclusions, the annenberg report suggests that while the gains made for chart-topping artists are promising, women working behind the scenes continue to face significant barriers to inclusion. It suggests that “women are stereotyped – in terms of the types of songs and genres they can create, as well as the roles they can play.”–, they are sexualized and their talent and experience are belittled”, in addition to the fact that programs to support women to gain experience in the music industry can be vital to increase the participation and success of women in the sector.

It also looks specifically at industry programs like women in the mix from the Recording Academy – which asks high-level artists to commit to including female engineers and producers on songs, but only registered one artist, Nicki Minaj, who did so in 2022 – and suggests that people who commit to hire women must comply.

The text states: “People who have committed to casting women on their songs must honor that commitment and, more importantly, they must do so on songs that are likely to be released and reach the public.”

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