You might want to sit down for this one: The Grammys have an institutionalized bias against women and an issue with female representation. (I know!) The specifics of said problem have been protected by the Recording Academy (they, unsurprisingly, have kept the numbers under lock and key) until now. On Thursday, Variety obtained a letter sent from the Academy to its members that doubles as the first official disclosure of the gender breakdown among Grammy voters and it is...not great!
The letter reveals that 21 percent of its voting membership are women and 11 percent of the producers and engineering wing members are women. The letter goes on to bravely declare that maybe the Grammys should be more concerned about representing the entire population? Hmmm. Here’s an excerpt:
“But it’s not enough to reflect the community. We must be leaders in moving our industry toward greater inclusion and representation. Women are 50% of our world. We need their voice and presence at every level.”
It also takes aim at a recent study which declared that only 9 percent of Grammy nominees were women, since it only looked at five categories. Because, c’mon, when you look at all 84 categories...it spikes all the way up to 17 percent! The letter does, however, provide the one caveat that the Recording Academy doesn’t require demographic information from its members, so hey, they could be way higher (or lower, of course).
There’s so much more work to be done, as an awards body and an industry at large, to better reflect its listener base. The letter concludes with the promise of more information to come about a “task force” that was launched after Academy president Neil Portnow said some dumb shit about women needing to “step up” in the industry.
We’ll see where it goes, but decades of Grammy-viewing would teach you to keep your hopes at rock bottom.