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Sexism rife in UK biz, finds study

78% of British female music creators have been discriminated against, with many feeling they're treated as "sexual objects", according to PRS Foundation

By IQ on 06 Mar 2017

Vanessa Reed, PRS Foundation, The Composers' Fun launch, Women Make Music

image © PRS for Music Foundation

More than three quarters of women working in the British music industry have experienced sexism, according to new report by PRS Foundation.

PRS Foundation, the charitable foundation run by UK performance rights organisation PRS for Music, last week released its most recent Women Make Music evaluation report, outlining the progress made by the initiative since its launch in 2011. Women Make Music aims to “raise awareness of the gender gap amongst songwriters and composers”, “encourage more female music creators to come forward for funding”, “increase the profile of women who are creating new music in the UK” and “support role models for future generations”.

Among its findings were that 78% of interviewees had experienced sexism in the music industry, and that many female creators feel “pigeonholed: often, for example, as performers rather than writers and producers, or as sexual objects rather than artists”.

“Our key aim at PRS Foundation is to enable composers and songwriters of all backgrounds to realise their potential,” says the organisation’s CEO, Vanessa Reed (pictured). “When we recognised in 2011 that only 16% of the commissions we were funding involved female music creators, we decided to set up a fund that would tackle this imbalance and encourage female composers and songwriters to come forward for support. […]

“Our [most recent] evaluation explored the current barriers faced by music creators and solutions that respond to these challenges, such as the continued importance of awareness raising across the music industry, the need for more women in the industry workforce, involvement of men and women as ambassadors for change and investment in targeted initiatives like Women Make Music in response to specific barriers.”

“The success of this fund will be determined by how soon it becomes redundant”

“Based on everything we’ve learnt from this evaluation,” she continues, “there’s no doubt that our Women Make Music fund is still needed in the short term – our commitment to developing it further with new partners forms part of this report’s recommendations. In the longer term, the success of this fund will be determined by how soon it becomes redundant.”

Reed says PRS Foundation has set itself the target of achieving a 50-50 balance of male–female applicants for its funding by 2022.

“This report calls on government, fellow funding agencies and other industry partners to work with us on this goal by endorsing and investing in good practice and positive action, like our Women Make Music fund, promoting role models for the next generation and improving working conditions for women in music,” she adds. “Only then can we be sure that a broader range of talent will be empowered to develop a career in writing music and that the music industry will better reflect the world around us.”

The foundation has provided £522,790 in grants to 157 female artists to date.

A similar recent report from Australia highlighted a “powerful, negative culture” in that country’s music industry, characterised by widespread “bullying, sexual assault, sexism and racism”.


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