Research shapes parliamentary report on misogyny in music

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Work by Dr George Musgrave alongside Dr Sally Anne Gross has contributed to a House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee report on Misogyny in music.

Annie Macmanus performing

The inquiry heard evidence from a range of people including broadcaster and DJ Annie Macmanus (pictured)

The Misogyny in music report published today (30 January 2024) examines the challenges faced by women working in the music industry and draws on evidence submitted by Dr George Musgrave, informed by his research on mental health and wellbeing in the music industry.

The parliamentary report discusses women’s experiences of misogyny and discrimination, and confronts issues including: representation, sexual harassment and abuse, legislative and other related changes, non-disclosure agreements, the importance of the Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority and calls on music industry bodies to act urgently.

Dr Musgrave’s evidence was submitted alongside Dr Sally Anne Gross, Reader at the University of Westminster, and draws on research and broader academic contributions to offer empirical insights into the systematic disadvantages faced by  women in the music industry, compared to men.

Dr Musgrave and Dr Gross’ work informs multiple areas of the report and is cited on topics including challenges faced by women around equal pay in the sector where self-employment is prevalent, problematic access to career opportunities and unwelcoming, discriminating and abusive spaces, unethical practices around weight and appearance, and challenges around parenting not being supported by the sector.

This report represents a promising step in the right direction at seeking to address misogyny and discrimination in the music industry which the House of Commons Women and Equalities Commission have described as ‘endemic’.

Dr George Musgrave, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Sociology and Creative Industries

The report makes recommendations explicitly connected to Dr Musgrave and Dr Gross’ research including: investments to be made available for training “in areas of the music industry that are male-dominated and where females are made to feel unwelcome”, that the Government should bring section 14 of the Equality Act into force to bring additional protections, and reform of parental leave for freelancers. 

Dr Musgrave said: “So many women have bravely shared powerful testimonies in the evidence for this report, many of them harrowing and distressing. Rebecca Ferguson, Charisse Beaumont, DJ Annie Mac, Nadia Khan, Vick Bain and many others are driving forward a powerful agenda for change and highlight an industry in urgent need of reform at every level. I was proud to contribute in just a small way drawing on research alongside Sally Anne Gross to this report. Sally is a strong champion of women in music, and to share our research findings was a privilege”.

Dr Musgrave and Dr Gross’ evidence concludes: “Our research highlights that women experience sexual assault, discrimination, bullying, abuse and more. This is evidence not only of misogyny and sexism in the music industries, but also demonstrates the ways in which this atmosphere impacts women’s mental health in the form of anxieties (over things including appearance, age, perception of competency and more) and even feelings of depression. These are all great causes for concern.”

Submissions of evidence from across the sector including academics, industry bodies, festival representatives, record label executives, artists and government contribute to the report, which notes: “We expect the music industry to act on our recommendation and call on industry bodies to respond to the recommendations relevant to their work”.