where my girls at?

This is a much needed discussion: where are the female producers for pop music? This guardian blog post offers some common explanations (and her notion of a counter-argument):

1. Chauvinism that expresses itself throughout the life course, but most sharply in youth when girls-who-would-become-superproducers are discouraged from cultivating their chops. (But there are women who are music geeks–Bjork is mentioned–so chauvinism can’t be that strong.)

2. Girls can’t handle the technology. (But producing has been dumbed down, so that’s less of an issue now.) [I’m not kidding–this is implied.]

3. Producing requires practice and dedication. (But girls “become athletes and cellists and ballerinas” so clearly it is possible for us to be determined and dedicated.)

4. Women respond to music emotionally and producing requires mens’ obsessiveness. (But the author alphabetizes her records and there are female birdwatchers…that’s obsessive.)

5. Producing involves massaging egos and “babysitting” musicians and most women won’t put up with this.

There are some useful bits in the comments–mostly folks calling attention both to female artists who produce their own music (Beyonce, Lil’ Kim), those who mostly produce their own but sometimes work for others (Missy Elliott, MIA), and some women who are very prolific but remain on the fringes of the industry. There is also some useful criticism of artists who proclaim a feminist agenda, but do not ensure their producers are women.

From my color commentary (which I toned down, truss me), you can tell that I don’t favor the argument above in its particulars. However, ms. empire usefully articulates many of the common (sexist) explanations for why there are no female producers of hit pop music. And, the question is worth asking.

Those of you whose expertise extends to gender and the professions: how would one design a study to determine the mechanisms that reproduce this gendered occupation? Would those methods change if I told you there are probably 5000 people in the industry (meaning: potential interview/survey respondents)? What if I said 500?

Any students looking for projects out there?…

UPDATE: Sad “girls in rock factoids” over at TLG aka the UT

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1 Comment

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One response to “where my girls at?

  1. auderey

    jlena, i’m forwarding this post to a student i met at PSA last month who works on similar topics. maybe she’ll contact you … thought i’d let you know.

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