The lack of gender diversity in electronic dance music

Person working on music technology equipment

  • 21 July 2019
  • 2 min read

Professor Samantha Warren from the University of Portsmouth has won a prestigious Leverhulme Research Fellowship to investigate the lack of gender diversity among electronic music producers.

Professor Warren’s fellowship is entitled ‘In the Key of She: Women, Technology and Cultural Production’. The two-year project includes a programme of interviews with women who are electronic dance music producers and the world’s first global survey of women’s participation in electronic dance music. Professor Warren will also be working with a female artist collective to create radio shows based on the interviews.

Throughout the project, Professor Warren aims to:

  • identify and examine reasons for persistently low levels of female participation in technology-driven cultural production.
  • establish and share best practice used by successful artists to improve the number and/or visibility of women in electronic dance music production.
  • extend research models of cultural production and creative industry, by employing a gender-sensitive perspective.

Professor Warren said: “Digital-creative industries are enduringly male dominated, with few women and girls choosing to work in them. This under-representation has material and social effects, e.g., recent figures show women earn 32 per cent less on average than men in the creative industries in the U.S. and a lack of female role models damages girls’ aspirations and career choices.  Gender diversity in the electronic music industry is also attracting significant public and industry attention – it is estimated that less than 10 per cent of DJs, and only five per cent of recognised electronic music producers are women and artists identifying as female are severely under-represented in the public eye, e.g., on festival line-ups.

“This project offers a significant opportunity to study those women who are successfully navigating these gender-specific challenges, particularly as they relate to intersectional issues such as, ethnicity, education and social class. The study will generate valuable best practice transferrable to other industries, such as computer game design, animation and AI, for example.”

The project findings will be shared on an ongoing basis through Internet Radio shows produced in collaboration with artist collective SISU. The shows will feature the music and stories of women producers across a range of electronic music genres. They can be listened to on-demand on the project website.

The project is supported by the Association for Electronic Music and the Women’s Dance Music Collective and informed by an expert committee of multidisciplinary academic advisors from cultural studies, music, gender studies, and business and management.

Findings, news and announcements will be posted regularly on the project website.

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