How is the electronic music industry home to one of the most overt gender gaps? How could a genre be so progressive yet fall so far behind?
The number of female DJs and producers are limited. And the number of women taking on more technical roles like sound engineering, recording and management are even more rare.
Some people innocently suggest that maybe there just aren’t as many women interested in the industry. But I don’t believe that’s the explanation and neither do countless women worldwide.
This gender gap could be partially attributed to how the electronic music industry is immensely male dominated. Not only are legendary musicians who pioneered the genre male, but the biggest names in the industry today are also all male. Getting past feelings of inferiority and breaking into the gentleman’s club is hard for aspiring female artists. Other than pure intimidation, emerging women in the industry are also faced with sexualization and negative stereotypes.
Often women are not considered to have the technical abilities to produce nor to have the same drive to succeed. Even worse, Boiler Room, the widely recognized online music broadcasting platform recently had to hire comment moderators after an array of female performances were attacked with sexist comments. The inequality that women face in the music industry is undeniable.
The main element of the gender gap that first caught my attention was that I almost never see women on festival lineups or booked for clubs. Music Festivals are popping up everywhere and booming in popularity, yet according to Vice, women only represent 10% of performers at music festivals around the world. To me this percentage is shockingly small but I believe it. After 5 years of attending Ultra Music Festival Miami, I’ve only seen three female performances. All three of those female artists were vocalists.
I don’t necessarily blame the festivals for this clear inequality because I believe that sexism is systemic. Even among the musicians who’ve transcended the obstacles set before them by our patriarchal society, their gender still precedes their talent. They are female artists as opposed to simply artists.
Women are socially expected to make feminine music and electronic music often contrasts those ideas of femininity. I feel like the gender gap has to do with subtle elements of sexism. Women are more likely to be judged by their appearances. They are more likely to be overlooked in the industry’s sea of males. Women have a harder time being taken seriously. And finally, women are more likely to be underpaid. Hopefully times are changing. But meanwhile the gender gap in electronic music is a topic that needs attention.
For more listen to Sound Of Rome Radio: Where are all the Women?