It's no secret that several of the entertainment industry's most prestigious award shows regularly miss the mark when it comes to representation. A lack of diversity fueled by race, gender and on the basis of sexual identity, there's never been a more poignant time to push for change that is well overdue. As we celebrate International Women's Day today, the Grammys are taking what feels like a deeply necessary step forward in the way of female representation, announcing a study into women’s representation in the music industry.
Working in collaboration with Berklee College of Music and Arizona State University, the Recording Acadamy – the music industry board behind the awards – recognised the importance of launching the study after realising that only 23% of nominees in this year's show identified as female. Breaking down that percentage; that equates to just 198 nominees out of 853, across 83 different categories.
For those of us on the outside, these numbers would be unfamiliar; given that when looking at the 2021 nominations, it would seem that female artists have taken the lead. Beyoncé has taken the lead with the highest number of nominations at nine; for her visual album, Black is King, followed by Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift who have garnered six nominations each.
Speaking of the study in a recent interview, Susan Whitehead, chair of the Berklee College of Music board of trustees, said; “The music industry is in need of a broad gender study that examines women representation beyond today’s popular music... We look forward to working with the Recording Academy to develop strong methodology for this study and to authentically address the lack of women representation in the music industry.”
The Grammys, in particular, has been the subject of heavy criticism over its treatment and representation of women. In 2018, then-president of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, infamously respond to critiques surrounding gender bias by suggesting women should simply "step up." In addition to these comments, Portnow was also accused of sexual assault by a female artist – allegations he denied.
Following these events, the Recording Acadamy has since launched an initiative to champion gender diversity – pledging to double the number of female voters by 2025. “While we are hopeful that we will still see benefit from that effort, we haven’t seen enough progress to date,” the chair and interim president and chief executive, Harvey Mason Jr, said in a statement.
The new study into women's representation at the Grammys is set to be completed and unveiled in early 2022. Until then, we can only hope for more consistent and genuine change across the entertainment industry.