Women are “chronically disadvantaged” in the Australian music industry and are underrepresented on festival lineups, award nights and major industry boards, a new report has found.
Research conducted by the University of Sydney’s Women, Work and Leadership Research Group suggests that despite the huge success of artists like Sia and Tina Arena, Aussie women still earn less than males do in the music industry, and currently face gender inequality in two key ways.
One way (according to the group’s new ‘Skipping A Beat’ report) is who ‘makes it’ as a performing artist — the other being who ‘makes the decisions’ which impact the industry.
“Whether it be radio playlists, festival lineups, industry awards, major industry boards, male artists and voices overwhelmingly dominate the Australian music industry,” says the report’s lead author, Associate Professor Rae Cooper.
Women currently represent a third of all employed musicians in Australia, but things look even more dire for specific positions within the industry.
“When we look at the gender breakdown for more technical roles such as sound engineering and music production, the gap becomes even wider,” says Professor Cooper.
“Women in the music industry are not only confronted with the ‘glass ceiling’, but also ‘glass walls’, where women congregate in occupations and sectors where the majority of employees are women.”
The report also found that female artists receive significantly less industry awards than their male peers, and are still underrepresented on triple j’s Hottest 100. The ARIA Hall Of Fame also has only 11 female artists among its 75 inductees.
Men also hold the overwhelming majority of board positions in four of Australia’s peak music publishing bodies, while the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) currently has no women on its board.
The report’s authors have made five key recommendations to help the Aussie music industry better address continuing gender equality:
- 1. Collect more and better data on the music industry on a gender disaggregated basis
- 2. Establish a well-resourced independent gender equality industry advocacy body
- 3. Use gender equality criteria in deciding public funding outcomes
- 4. Increase women’s representation in decision-making structures
- 5. Address gender bias in the Australian music industry by prioritising inclusivity and representation as core industry values (for example through funding and implementing training programs)
“It makes good business sense for the Australian music industry to increase gender diversity in key decision making roles,” says Associate Professor Cooper.
“We know from international research that organisations and industries with gender diversity at the senior leadership level perform better not only in terms of connecting with their customers but with business innovation.”
Meanwhile, the report’s co-author Dr Amanda Coles from Deakin University, says, “Inclusive, representative music industries are the foundation of a rich and diverse music landscape.
“The Australian music industry must catch up to the changes happening across the creative industries more generally.”
The ‘Skipping A Beat’ report was funded by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) and produced by Dr Coles, Associate Professor Rae Cooper and PhD candidate Sally Hanna-Osborne.
Read the report in full right here.