Where Are the Female Producers and Sound Engineers?

The music industry has a bit of a gender bias.

By Gloria Zhou | Canada


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons


Over the past two decades, the music industry has seen more and more females on the

rise, artists such as Rihanna and Beyonce now becoming household names. However, it’s safe to say that this is not the case with those working behind the scenes, aka the record producers and sound engineers.

While producers like Pierre Bourne and Pharrell Williams have gained recognition, when one is asked to name female producers, no one comes to mind. The lack of female representation in this field is not a new issue and although recording academies have pushed for more representation in recent years, the percentage of female producers in 2020 remained at 2%, leaving a 98% male-dominated field.

Music production has always been primarily a male-dominated industry, but

considering the recent push by recording academies to bring in more female representation, why are the numbers still so low? As a female bedroom producer, I want to highlight what I have learnt from my own experience and research. Throughout all the discussions, conferences, and books with producers who have “made it” in the music scene, there is one common underlying theme to answer the question: it’s not that women lack a passion or capability for music, but it’s a matter of biological differences that create barriers preventing women from pursuing a career as a producer. It’s not that women aren’t interested in music production; rather, women aren’t interested in making the sacrifices needed to become a successful producer.

The reality is, women have to work twice as hard to “make it” because this cutthroat industry is competitive and relies heavily on building relationships with other people and finding a team. Often, that requires dealing with certain personalities that create an energy that is difficult for a female to match. As a producer, you have to turn into the person that fits in with the artist or band. Succeeding in the music industry is a collaborative effort that requires a lot of trust in your team to be on the same wavelength, which is commonly known as synergy. Just like a plant requires both sunlight and water, it needs both to thrive and grow. In the same way, one requires talent and synergy because without one or the other, you won’t be able to establish the relationships needed to ensure success.

The lifestyle that being a producer demands is very competitive and all-consuming, so

work ethic is undoubtedly one of the most important things you need to succeed, regardless

of ambition. This career is taxing on both the mind and body, which presents a struggle in

itself. Now it's not that females can’t match the work ethic of the males in this field, but producing is a full-time job that demands full attention from your mind and your body, and this is where biological differences come into play.

A woman in her late 20’s has to worry about her biological clock ticking, and starting a family and having kids. Being a mother is definitely a full-time job as well, so it’s really not possible to do both - thus, maintaining the dedication needed to perfect your craft has to come at the expense of reproduction. Since the responsibilities of men and women differ in such a way that men have the luxury to take the risks that come with adopting this lifestyle.

Understanding the biological differences in this case is important because it’s really

encouraging to see female producers today. Whenever I meet another woman in this industry, it’s always exciting because I understand how hard they have worked and how much they have sacrificed to get there. If there is one piece of advice from speaking with successful women in this industry that I would like to share with you, it would be the importance of mentorship in building a foundation for success.


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