Study reveals soaring successes and lingering struggles for women, especially women of color, in music


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By Stacy M. Brown, AFRO

With the observance of Women’s History Month in full swing, the music world has finally begun to recognize female artists’ vast contributions.

The latest report from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative reflected on the strides forward and the persistent obstacles women professionals in the music industry face.

The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and associate professor of communication Stacy L. Smith conducted the study, which included 1,200 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Charts and provided a detailed analysis spanning 12 years. Its scope encompassed the roles of artists, songwriters and producers while delving into Grammy Award nominations across six major categories.

The study’s findings painted a nuanced picture of progress and disparities within the industry. Notably, there has been a marked increase in the representation of women artists, reaching a 12-year high of 35 percent. Researchers said this surge, particularly evident in the rise of individual female artists claiming over 40 percent of spots on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart in 2023, signaled a positive shift. 

However, despite the gains, the study authors noted that it’s crucial to recognize that women still occupy less than a quarter of artist roles overall, underscoring the need for sustained efforts toward greater inclusivity.

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