How Do We Fix the Industry’s Gender Imbalance? Female Producers Weigh-In

Holly Herndon

Holly Herndon

The Fader has talked to 13 female producers, asking why they think there are so few female producers and engineers, and what we should to do about it.  Fader links to sources that estimate the number of women in these fields to be around five percent, but it’s really difficult to truly know.

We don’t really need an exact number, we can look around and see it.  Recent electronic music festival bookings of women hovered around 2 to 10 percent of the total lineup.  Decibel Festival’s lineup was 18.1 percent female, a positive change.

Read some of these producers’ ideas on how to change the gender gap below, and read Fader’s full article for the full list and a wide variety of thoughts on why the gap exists.

Fatima Al Qadiri:

“My mother supported my dream, so without her, I wouldn’t be answering these questions. Support is one aspect, but women should also be fearless, go forth and battle the crescendo of bullshit in their path.”

Caroline Polachek:

“For others aspiring to be the next WondaGurl, there’s an uphill battle to push through to be taken seriously by clients and create a whole new archetype for girls on deck, and the ones who do will be heroes and exponentially attract others to the field.  I think it’s up to girls to teach themselves the skills they need and step up to the plate as musical pioneers, not up to corporate sponsorships to give handouts that emphasize that the recipient is a minority rather than as a expert.  Ultimately the music has to speak for itself and make the biggest change. I really think it’s only a matter of time though. I’d give it five years max till we have a top 10 track made by a female producer.”

WondaGurl:

I feel women should enter more beat battle competitions, that would be the first step in getting noticed by people from all over. There are many industry people that attend those events and that I feel would be a good place to promote yourself.”

Holly Herndon:

I think this is something more complex than just female involvement. I think a number of people struggle to find a place within the industry due to this preoccupation with old archetypes, and insistence that people adhere to the same affected role-playing in order to be considered worthy of opportunities. Adherence to those kind of roles inherently creates barriers for people of diverse lifestyles and opinions. What distinguishes someone like Missy Elliott, for example, is that she exists outside of those narrow roles, and ultimately I think that until people insist on seeing greater diversity of style and opinion in popular music we will continue to face this challenge.”

+Nick Monaco: “Don’t Let Dance Music Forget Where It Came From”

TOKiMONSTA:

“It would be too easy to name things like “start school programs” or air PSAs. The reality is that there is a systematic flaw in our culture. Women need to feel proud to stand on their own and be creative without worrying about how we may be inadequate.

+How to Make Music With Sushi, by Just Blaze and TOKiMONSTA…

Ikonika:

You can start by booking me at the same price as males, stop leaving me on the bottom of the pile, work with me, talk to me, endorse me, promote me.

Anna Lunoe:

“It’s a two prong attack: 1) Getting more girls exposed to introductory production workshops at a young age before they get into that teenage headspace of learning that they can’t. 2) Developing some quality production mentoring programs that are specifically aimed at promising young female engineers to develop their skills further. This mentoring program is something I have thought a lot about initiating when I get the time and support.”

+Anna Lunoe Walks Us Through Her Prolific Dance Music Career…

Jubilee:

“Production and engineering schools should encourage women to join, maybe look at their ratio, start mentoring programs. The few women in high positions should take other women under their wing and help them. That goes for male engineers too. This all goes down to the basic bottom line of feminism in general though.”

UNiiQU3:

I think the industry should highlight the many female producers and engineers we do have in the music industry, no matter what scene they may be in, and maybe that will encourage more girls to take on the challenge. There’s numerous females that work magic outside of the vocal booth—Sylvia Robinson who produced the hip-hop classic “Rapper’s Delight” to Beyonce who was a producer on her I Am.. Sasha Fierce album—but that gets no praise when it should.”

Nightwave:

“Start young! Encourage music programming in schools or kindergardens, show how easy and fun it actually is, let them fall in love with it and pursue it as a career. Provide workshops and learning events where girls (and boys) can learn and practice for free. Encourage mentoring by other women artists. Bigger female representation in music events and in music press, without drawing undesired attention to it (less click-bait articles about the problem, more focus on the work of women producers). And if you’re going to write about it, include men in the debate, we need to shift this paradigm together and work towards equality in the future.”

 

Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more for Digital Music News. In her spare time she heads music blog West Coast Fix. She’s also working on a program to provide resources to girls interested in production and DJing. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u

11 Responses

  1. Eva Braun

    “How Do We Fix the Industry’s Gender Imbalance?”

    Nobody needs more female djs with tits and no talent!

    Reply
  2. There is something...

    The answer could be easier than you think: because there are less women seeking to make a career as producer or engineer… I see far less women than men in the music production or music engineering departments at music / audio schools. Songwriting or performance are usually more balanced. Dance has far more women students. Gender equality doesn’t mean we have to all seek the same path in our lives.

    Reply
    • Scott Meriwether

      What!? Are you seriously suggesting that women are free to pursue any career they want and are simply choosing of their own free will not to be record producers/engineers? Absurd. If that were true we’d probably see very few women pursuing careers in coal mining or other dangerous, unpleasant jobs.

      Reply
      • cody

        Yo I’d like to see your evidence to back that up. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing, as I don’t have any data, but just because some industry or field or any area of human interest isn’t balanced, be it gender or skin color/nationalities or what have you, does not necessarily mean that the that field discriminates. There are many possible reasons why their isn’t much diversity in something, and assuming that it’s any one of them without careful analysis and real data can only be said to be speculation at best.

        Reply
    • cody

      Although I don’t have any evidence to suggest either way, this is part of what I think is going on, the other part being that there just aren’t as many women as men trying to become producers/dj’s. So even if both genders were equally talented, which is probably about true, there would still obviously be more men being booked at festivals because there are just a greater number of more talented men.

      Reply
  3. Cmonbro

    How about more women in STEM positions…

    There is no “industry” gender imbalance. The biggest act in the world is a woman. The 2nd biggest act is a women and out of the top 10 there are probably 7-8 women

    Women in the “industry” cover more magazine covers and garner more sponsorship than men on any given day…

    Now if we want to talk specifically about EDM or producing or Djing I think there is an inherent issue with the way the public sees women as “tribe” leaders. They can only be grandiose over the top untouchable (rihanna, gaga, beyonce).. whereas a guy can slowly come up the ranks as a “person of the people” (diplo, mac miller) which I think is crucial for DJing.

    Reply
  4. Versus

    Where is the evidence that this is a problem to be fixed?
    Unless there is systematic discrimination involved, what exactly is the problem?

    Reply

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