The experience of Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis shows that the music industry’s gender equality problem runs deep.
Festival co-organiser Emily Eavis wants to see the event achieve gender balance in the line-up, and she’s certainly helping the event head in the right direction.
But one thing that might get in the way is the way the music industry has treated Eavis, who organises the festival with her dad and Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Eavis spoke about the sexism she’s faced from people who are more used to dealing with men.
“The live music world has been so male-dominated, so I’d go to meetings with just tables of men,” she said. “And some of them were great, and some just refused to kind of accept they had to deal with me. I think it’s quite hard to go from dealing with my dad and then to suddenly have to be dealing with me.”
Research from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California found that the problem runs deep, with female artists underrepresented and female songwriters and producers “vastly outnumbered” by men.
The study examined 633 popular songs on the Billboard Hot 100 year-end charts from 2012-2018, and found that almost half did not credit one woman as a songwriter. Across 400 songs, only 2% of producers were female, translating to around one female producer for every 47 male producers.
Interviews with women for the study found that 40% said their “work or skills were dismissed or discounted by colleagues, and 39% said that stereotyping and sexualisation were impediments to their careers”. More than one-third said that the industry was male-dominated.
Professor Stacy L Smith, who conducted the research, said: “What the experiences of women reveal is that the biggest barrier they face is the way the music industry thinks about women.
“The perception of women is highly stereotypical, sexualised and without skill. Until those core beliefs are altered, women will continue to face a roadblock as they navigate their careers.”
Lily Allen has previously said she’s “astonished” at the lack of female executives at major record companies.
She said: “You will also notice of the big successful female artists, there is always a ‘man behind the woman’ piece. If it’s Beyoncé, it’s Jay Z. If it’s Adele, it’s Paul Epworth. Me? It was Mark Ronson and the same with Amy Winehouse.
“You never get that with men. You can’t think of the man behind the man. Because it is a conversation that never happens. If you are Ed Sheeran or someone, no one ever talks about who has produced or who is the man behind Ed Sheeran.”
Singer Dua Lipa has called out the prejudice that female artists face on a daily basis. She said in an interview: “For a female artist, it takes a lot more to be taken seriously if you’re not sat down at a piano or with a guitar, you know
“For a male artist, people instantly assume they write their own music, but for women, they assume it’s all manufactured.”
It’s clear that the music industry has a long way to go before women in all roles are taken seriously. But we’d advice any man underestimating Eavis to take a look at her track record, and judge her by that rather than by her gender.