The world's biggest female DJ, Nina Kraviz, playing Exit Festival this year.
A new study has revealed just how wide the gender gap is in electronic music.
The study was commissioned by a group called female:pressure and looks at the distribution of men versus women in festival lineups over the past year. It found that men held a 77.2% majority in lineups around the wold over the past year versus a 15.7% share for women. It comes just weeks after Forbes released their list of the world’s highest paid DJs, which yet again did not include any women.
And the situation does not seem to be improving quickly enough to achieve anywhere near equal balance between the sexes. In 2008, there were only four women in Resident Advisor’s first ever Top 100 DJs Poll, but in 2016 that number only improved to eight.
So why are so women so underrepresented in dance music? Although we’ve had recent gender controversies such as Giegling’s Konstantin sexist comments in an interview with Groove Magazine, there are seemingly few doors, at least to the outward eye, that are closed to women.
At Ibiza Voice we often struggle to fill interview slots with enough women to ensure an equal gender balance, because there simple aren’t as many women in dance music to choose from on a case by case basis.
As a magazine we are genuinely motivated to include an equal balance of women to men, because we believe that gender equality is an essential goal towards achieving a just society. And even if you don't believe us when we say that, consider that from a bluntly economic point of view, it is in the interests of editors to have as many women reading magazines as possible because it is in our interests to have as many people of either sex reading as possible.
It’s impossible to say if that same sentiment is expressed by the keepers of other key gateways in the industry, namely talent bookers for festivals or clubs or record label A&Rs. As sexism is so often a taboo subject, sexists rarely openly declare their bias.
Is the reason less women are infiltrating the ranks of dance music’s elite because the doors are less likely to open for them? Or are less women motivated to pursue a career as a dance music artist because less female role models exist to encourage them forward in the first place?
It is an incredibly complex and murky problem to address and our bet is that the cause is likely to be a combination of both problems.
To understand the issue, it’s important to look at society as a whole. Gender inequality affects all professions and all walks of life, not just dance music. In the UK, the BBC was recently embroiled in a gender controversy when it was revealed that only a third of the BBC’s top earners were female and women on the whole were drastically underpaid in comparison to men.
How can this be happening in 2017? It’s easy to forget that we are still living in the shadows of a male dominated sexist world order. It’s just under a hundred years since women won the right to vote in most Western countries around the end of the First World War. And the advent of the Birth Control Pill, a landmark moment in allowing women to pursue their own careers, only really took root in the 1960s.
The stark fact is women have thousands or potentially hundreds of thousands of years of oppression to overcome.
Perhaps we are naive to assume that the after effects of this oppression could be eradicated in a generation. But nevertheless, we need to move as quickly as possible to eradicate the primitive dominance of men in society.
Club culture is by its very nature a unifying, liberal force in society and it is embarrassing that gender equality is as much of an issue in our scene as it is in other walks of life.
Gender inequality must be treated as one of the most important issues in club culture, just as it should be in society as a whole. And it should be confronted at every level, from the promoter to the journalist, to the A&R, to the fan.