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Nearly 80% of women working in the music industry have experienced sexism

Laura  Barnes
Nearly 80% of women working in the music industry have experienced sexism

A new report from PRS Foundation has highlighted the shocking amount of sexism that is still prevalent in today’s music industry.

Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8th, the Women Make Music Fund – launched by PRS Foundation in 2011 – has announced the findings of a five year evaluation report at a Parliamentary round table at Portcullis House; attended by MPs, Women Make Music grantees, representatives of Arts Council England, BBC and the music industry.

The Women Make Music Fund was created to draw attention to the gender gap between men and women in the music industry and increase the number of women creating new music in the UK.

In 2011, just 13% of PRS for Music members were professional female songwriters and composers. Now in 2017, female membership sits at 16%. And the report found that over three-quarters (79%) of Women Make Music grantees said the fund significantly helped their confidence by enabling them to grow their professional profile.
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While it’s fantastic to see an increase in female membership and the benefit this fund is having for those women, it also shows just how much work still needs to be done. But what’s really shocking is what the report found out about the way women are treated in the industry.

78% of women interviewed for the report said they had experienced sexism in the music industry.

Many of those interviewed said they felt pigeonholed – often, for example, as performers rather than writers and producers; or as sexual objects rather than artists.

Classical music composers also pointed to the lack of role models. Artists in other genres recognise that the industry itself is male dominated.

Lack of recognition of what women contribute and achieve within the music industry and the pressure on women to conform to an image of being beautiful and sexy were recurring themes in the interviews and surveys for the study.

“Ideally, Women Make Music would not be necessary and the music industry would be gender neutral in talent progression,” reads the report. “But the music industry does not operate in isolation. Many of the challenges for women in the music industry are part of much wider societal challenges of gender discrimination and sexism.”

Since 2011, Women Make Music Fund has supported 157 female songwriters, composers and music creators, awarding £522,790 in grants.

Vanessa Reed, chief executive of PRS for Music Foundation, commented: “The impact of the Women Make Music fund over the past five years demonstrates how powerful and inspiring targeted funding initiatives can be. Not only is it a hugely popular programme, but a transformational one which has introduced us to new talent and positively impacted the careers of over 150 female songwriters, composers and music creators.

“We’re pleased that the findings of our evaluation are being discussed in Parliament today and that Matt Hancock (Minister for Culture and Digital) and Caroline Dinenage (Minister for Women, Equalities and Early Years) have shown their interest and support of this work. We look forward to working with government, other funders and industry partners to grow this fund so that we can reach more of the women who deserve our support and accelerate change in an industry which would benefit from increased representation of talented women.”

Women Make Music grants are available to any female music creator, with a professional track record of 18 months or more, whose project fits with PRS Foundation’s aims to enable talented music creators of any background to realise their potential.

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Tags: women in music , sexism , PRS Foundation , Women Make Music Fund

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