The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released their inaugural study of gender and race/ethnicity representation in pop music this week, and their findings show just how skewed the current gender balance is.
The study analyzed 600 songs in the Billboard Hot 100 from 2012-2017. Of the 1,239 artists responsible for these songs, only 22.4% were women. In 2017, only 16.8% were credited to female artists—a six-year low.
The gender gap is even more pronounced behind the scenes. Out of the study’s 651 producers, 98% were male and only 2% female.
Of 2,767 songwriters credited, 87.7% were male and 12.3% were female. The report also revealed that female artists worked with female songwriters more than male artists worked with female songwriters. The researchers behind the study note, "For women crafting lyrics for others to perform, female artists are important allies, but not a panacea to creating more chances for female songwriters to thrive."
73.8% of the female songwriters only worked once in the six year period that USC's researchers studied. 7.9% worked twice and 4.3 percent worked three times. Less than 6% of female songwriters had six or more credits.
The study also highlighted a pronounced gender gap when it came to Grammy nominees. 899 artists were nominated for a Grammy between 2013 and 2018. 90.7% of those were male and only 9.3% were female. Zero female artists were nominated for the Producer of the Year award in those six years.
In an interview with Billboard, founder/director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Dr. Stacy L. Smith reflected on the numbers and said, "Across six years in the pop charts, females only account for 22% of all artists. And 2017 was a six-year low. This is [lower] than what we see in terms of characters in films, substantially [lower] than what we see in television. Folks might think that women are actually thriving in music but the data counters that particular way of thinking."
Smith also stressed, "Only 2% of all producers are women but more importantly this is a ratio of 49 males to every one female. And across 300 songs, only two female producers of color appear across the sample."
You can read the full report here.