Half of women in music have experienced discrimination, new report reveals

A new report has revealed that half of the women in the music industry have experienced some form of discrimination. 

Conducted by the UK Musicians’ Census from Help Musicians and the Musicians’ Union, the report reveals that women are more likely to encounter challenges in the industry, including discrimination, harassment, and career barriers. 

Based on responses from over 2526 UK musicians who identified as women, out of nearly 6000 musicians overall, these findings mark the first UK Musicians’ Census and is the largest survey of its kind conducted by Help Musicians and the Musicians’ Union. Women in CTRL, a movement dedicated to breaking down barriers and fostering inclusivity in the industry, also contributed to the report.

51% of women reported experiencing gender discrimination while working as musicians. They were eight times more likely to experience this than their male counterparts, with only 6% of males reporting such discrimination.

Meanwhile, 33% of women reported experiencing sexual harassment while working as musicians, and a quarter of reported witnessing sexual harassment of others in the music industry.

Women made up two-thirds, 62%, of those who identified work-related abuse or harassment as a career barrier, and 60% of those who felt discrimination was a barrier to their career progression.

The report also underscores a gender pay gap issue, with the average annual income for a female musician found to be £19,850, compared to £21,750 for men, indicating that women earn nearly a tenth less. Furthermore, women constitute only 19% of those in the highest income bracket.

Women were also found to be more qualified than men, but this doesn’t translate to higher earnings. According to the report, 14% more women have a music degree, and 15% have a postgraduate music qualification.

Gender also continues to influence the types of roles and genres in which musicians engage. While 79% of women are performing musicians, they are notably underrepresented in other areas, accounting for 29% of DJs and 24% of producers. Only 15% of women were live sound engineers and 12% were studio/mastering engineers. 

Disparities exist in genres as well. For UK rap, only 8% of women report working in this genre, compared to 16% of musicians of other genders. In dance music, the figures are 18% for women compared to 28% for musicians of all other genders.

The recent findings highlight the persistent issue of the gender pay gap in the music industry. In 2020, six major music companies reported an average gender pay gap of 25.3%.

Last year, Saffron, another non-profit organization dedicated to advancing gender equality within the music industry, launched a fundraiser to help it continue its work.

For more information on the latest research, visit and to access the full reports from the Musicians’ Census.

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