An unfortunate feature of Australia’s music industry continues to be its gender gap, in terms of the split in representation between male and female musicians.
This year, triple j‘s ‘Hack’ programme has once again analysed the number of men and women across various segments of the industry, and found that while the gender gap has become smaller in some areas, other areas have seen the differential become greater, in an industry that’s undoubtedly still male-dominated. That’s despite the fact that Hack found there to be almost an even split of music students at Australian high schools and tertiary institutions.
At the moment, it seems like a question of one step forward and one step back for females in Australian music. Positively, more women now represent and manage independent record labels and sit on the boards of prominent music bodies, and more women were nominated for J Awards in 2016.
Contrarily, triple j showcased less feature albums by women, and nominations for APRA AMCOS awards saw more males nominated last year than in 2015.
Several other key areas in the industry continue to be steadily dominated by males, including artists featured in the triple j Hottest 100, Aussie music festivals (with Laneway Festival scoring best with 36 per cent of acts featuring women), and there are more men receiving songwriting payments, in artist management jobs and receiving grants and award nominations from APRA and ARIA.
The reasons for why this gap continues to exist have been hotly debated for years, with RMIT lecturer Dr Catherine Strong telling Hack that various complexities from the potential lack of female role models to invisible cultural perceptions and social position can all influence whether women pursue positions in the industry, as well as how female musicians are received by the public.
According to Dr Strong, the only way to break the cycle of outrage and complacency about such issues is for the industry to interrupt the pattern “and making lasting changes stick”.
International Women’s Day will take place tomorrow, and to celebrate triple j and its sister stations will feature a day of female music hosted by a killer lineup of female presenters.