The Issues

We’re going to redirect you back to the stats quickly. Click HERE.


Are you back? Good.


Below we’ve laid out a load more problems that women face in the industry and a couple of possible explanations. Take a deep breath and make sure you’re sitting comfortably!

Let’s begin.


Education / early life

  • Girls are not actively encouraged to go into the music industry, other than as singers or classical musicians.
  • Lack of role models: girls and young women fail to consider certain fields of work because they’ve never seen anyone like them working in that field.

Outright discrimination

  • It does still occur that a woman will be denied a job because of her gender, so – irrespective of whether the music industry is more or less guilty of this than other industries – this may account for the lack of women in the industry.
  • In-work harassment and/or discrimination (yes, although it’s important to acknowledge that it’s much rarer now, this is still happening).
  • Check out the section dedicated to ageism further down the page.


  • Media sexism is mainly a problem for the women at the ‘front’ of the industry – the artists, live musicians, dancers, etc. – although it has an impact on women behind the scenes too.
  • Despite the spending power of female music fans, most music magazines are aimed at young men. Not only does this reduce the number of women featured in the magazines, it affects the female readership – young women have to go and stand near the MAN magazines (about cars and politics and other things that women couldn’t possibly understand) and ‘lad mags‘ in order to find the music magazines.
  • Mainstream music videos are often overtly sexualised and objectify women (well, usually women…).
  • The use of a whole host of words in album/gig reviews that are never used to describe music performed by men (‘confessional’ and ‘quirky‘ being particular favourites of ours).
  • Regarding newspaper coverage, we can’t put it much better than Amanda Palmer does here:




  • Women are under-represented on music festival line-ups every year (and it’s not just rock festivals that are guilty of this ). This article includes a long list of great acts that have at least one woman in the band – it’s not like these artists don’t exist.
  • The lack of women on festival line-ups is a cyclical problem because festivals provide vital exposure for artists; if women aren’t getting onto these line-ups then they’re not getting the exposure, and if they’re not getting exposure then they can’t draw crowds and if they can’t draw crowds then they won’t be booked to play festivals.
  • The fees that artists receive for playing festivals are sky-rocketing, which leaves those who can’t get booked at a huge financial disadvantage compared to those who can.


  • Girls are discouraged from engaging with technology (think: electric guitars, sound engineering, lighting, music/tech start-ups, etc.), both explicitly and implicitly.
  • In the live realm and in the studio, equipment is often the wrong shape and weight for most women to move. St. Vincent has designed a more ‘female-friendly’ guitar because of the awkward shape and weight of most electric guitars.



* ‘managers’ is a general term – it does not refer to artist managers specifically
  • Here’s something that happens across almost all industries: once a woman marries, she is less likely to even reach the interview stage for jobs she has applied for. This is usually because employers expect married women to want to get pregnant, take paid maternity leave, and demand flexible working hours. That might sound logical, especially since women still face the cultural expectation that they will do the majority of childcare, but it is illegal
  • Here’s another depressing thing that happens across most industries: the older a woman is, the wider the pay gap is between her and her male peers. See the infographic above.
  • There’s a double-standard in music that means that The Rolling Stones, The Who, Iggy Pop, etc., can still headline festivals (and so they should!), whereas acts like Madonna and Dolly Parton are ridiculed.  Plus they don’t earn as much, despite their popularity.



Pay gap: 

  • The gender pay gap might have a special impact in the music industry because entry-level jobs in music are notoriously badly remunerated (especially compared to what the people at the top are earning) – this may be squeezing women out of the industry, especially in cities where the cost of living is very high.
  • The glass ceiling means that women have to work considerably harder to climb the career ladder – combine this with the poor wages at the lowest rungs of the music industry and pay inequality, and you get a lot of women who simply cannot afford to remain working in music.