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More Than Half of Female U.K. Musicians Have Experienced Discrimination, According to Musicians' Census Report

There is 'still so much work to be done to ensure pursuing a career in music is more equitable,' according to the report.

Source: MC23

The Women Musicians Insight Report contained alarming findings about women's experiences in music.

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A recent BBC article has brought renewed attention to several alarming findings from a 2023 U.K. survey on gender discrimination in music, in particular the revelation that more than half of female musicians reported experiencing discrimination. The complete survey was directed by Help Musicians and the Musicians' Union to help "provide a fuller picture of the musician population in the U.K. today."

The census surveyed 5,867 musicians in the UK over the age of 16 who "earn or intend to earn money" from music. This is the fifth report from the questionnaire, which aims to highlight "some of the barriers and issues women face in their careers as musicians."

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According to the data (also reported in The Guardian), female musicians are eight times more likely to have experienced gender discrimination than their male colleagues, at 51 percent compared with 6 percent. About 33 percent of women also report being sexually harassed while working as a musician, according to data from the Women Musicians Insight Report.

With regards to financials, on average, female musicians earn less than their male colleagues. The average annual income from music for men is £21,750 and for women, it's £19,850. However, women also tend to have higher levels of educational qualifications than men working in the industry: 46 percent of female repliers reported a masters level or above education, compared with 30 percent of all other respondents.

This fifth installment is in line with a report from MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee in January. Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Macmanus testified before the inquiry, stating the music business is "a boys' club" and "the system is kind of rigged against women."

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Source: stephaniesiansmith/Facebook

Former BBC 1 Radio DJ Annie Macmanus: "The system is rigged against women."

"It's infuriating, the amount of women who have stories of sexual assault that just kind of buried them and carried them," she said. "It's just unbelievable.

"So I do think if something were to happen, like if one person was to speak that had enough profile where it got media attention, I think there could be a kind of tidal wave of it. Definitely."

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Source: PBS NewsHour

Female jazz musicians raise their voices against sexism

Source: Andrea Tarella/CC BY 2.0

Former X Factor contestant Rebecca Ferguson: "The tip of the iceberg."

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Singer and former X Factor contestant Rebecca Ferguson also gave evidence to the committee. She said bullying and corruption was allowed to happen in the industry, and testified she had been told that rapes were kept private. In addition, she claimed her management company bullied her when she wanted to exit, and company staff "were instructed to ruin my personal relationships [and] ignore calls from my children."

There is "still so much work to be done to ensure pursuing a career in music is more equitable," said Sarah Woods, chief executive of both Help Musicians and Music Minds Matter: "We hope these insights will encourage the industry to continue collaborating to reduce gender-based barriers and ensure gender equity in every part of music."


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