In the wake of women being grossly underrepresented at last week's Grammy Awards, the Guardian reports that the Recording Academy is planning to set up an independent task force to tackle gender bias. The team will focus on reviewing current practices, identifying barriers, and creating opportunities to move forward in a much more inclusive way. At the most recent Grammy Awards, just 11 of the 84 winners were women, and only a single woman, Alessia Cara, accepted an award during the live telecast.
In a statement issued on the official Grammy website on Thursday, Portnow promises the task force will "attack [gender bias] head-on," and investigate "every aspect of what we do as an organization," when it comes to barriers facing female artists. The full statement reads:
To The Music Community—
After hearing from many friends and colleagues, I understand the hurt that my poor choice of words following last Sunday's GRAMMY telecast has caused. I also now realize that it's about more than just my words. Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women. I'd like to help make that right.
The Recording Academy is establishing an independent task force to review every aspect of what we do as an organization and identify where we can do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community. We will also place ourselves under a microscope and tackle whatever truths are revealed.
I appreciate that the issue of gender bias needs to be addressed in our industry, and share in the urgency to attack it head on. We as an organization, and I as its leader, pledge our commitment to doing that. We will share more information about the steps we are taking in the coming weeks.
But it may be too little, too late. The Academy's CEO Neil Portnow recently found himself in hot water for responding to criticisms about the lack of female winners by saying women need to "step up." He would later apologize for his remarks after heated backlash from fans and artists alike, including Pink, Lorde, Katy Perry, and Haim. In the wake of his comments and an industry that has failed women in various ways for decades, there's now a petition to have Portnow removed as the Academy's President.