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Where are the female record producers?

Illustration: Madalyn Drewno · The Sentry

The music industry needs more women

For decades, there has been a great disparity between how men and women are perceived—especially in the workforce. This is still the sad fact in the contemporary music industry; female music producers are sorely underrepresented in the music business.

According to The Atlantic, less than seven percent of record producers are female, but this number isn’t entirely accurate because some audio recording associations don’t bother to count the number due to the miniscule figures that often come out of these censuses. On top of this meager number, a female producer has yet to win a Grammy for Non-Classical Producer of the Year. But why is this the case?

There are a number of factors that contribute to this scarcity—sometimes including lack of interest in the job. However, this lack of interest is created by a lack of education. “I think the lack of interest in the production component in music is something that stems from early education. There is a tendency for parents, teachers, etc. to push girls toward certain things and boys toward certain things, unintentionally and intentionally,” said Lauren Brady, a recording arts major.

The lack of education about the topic, especially introducing it to young musicians early on, is a major factor leading to the lack of women going into the production field. “We need to show young women that it is even an option earlier on,” said Kylie Heringer, a recording arts major. “Many young, female musicians are probably not getting told that they can do production. I was a choir nerd, and in that classical environment there really wasn’t any talk about sound engineering in my experience.”

Sexism, unfortunately, is another contributing factor to the disparity. The rarity of women in the studio has caused a breeding ground for unwanted harassment as well as gross disrespect for women’s skill sets. “There have definitely been times you’ll [suggest] an idea and the artist will pass over it and the guy in the room will say the same idea and they’ll say, ‘I love it,’ and you’re like, ‘Oh, my Lord,’” Alex Hope, a producer for artists like Troye Sivan, said. “You can’t really show any signs of not knowing what you’re doing. You are at the helm.”

All of this begins to snowball into another factor of the lasting problem. The lack of representation and role models makes it hard for young girls to have someone to look up to growing up. “I think the lack of women in production is due to lack of representation,” Ashley Nepo, a recording arts major, said. “I think women get discouraged before they even try to enter the field because women are disposed to doubt or underestimate themselves.”

CU Denver is certainly helping with advocating for women in music and helping with producing the next generation of female artists, especially in production fields. But in order to solve the problem, more must be done. Current and aspiring female producers need to continue to push through the ugly side of making it in production, and work to become the voice for the next generation of producers.

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