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International Women’s Day: Survey, Webinar and Resources


Over Two-Thirds of Female Musicians Report Discrimination Due to Their Gender


Over two-thirds (68%) of female musicians in our survey reported experiencing discrimination or bias in the music industry due to their gender (compared to 10% of male musicians). 

Aesthetics Over Ability: The Double Standard


Furthermore, we found that six in ten (64%) of female musicians feel pressured to conform to gender stereotypes to succeed in the industry. 

Within this, the most prominent theme that emerged is the pressure to prioritise appearance over musical talent. A staggering 55% of respondents highlighted the expectation to conform to a hyper-feminine image, often involving elaborate outfits, makeup, and heels. This constant pressure to prioritise aesthetics overshadows their musical prowess, reducing them to mere visual spectacles.

Female musician – “People want you to be dolled up to the nines when men can just turn up in jeans and a t-shirt.” 

Female musician – “Women are expected to dress sexy, with nice outfits, and makeup etc, men are not required to do this.”

Female musician – “Fit in with a look, wear makeup, be slim, shave, do it for presentation etc, get sexy shots, present on stage in an overt way.”

Female musician – “You wouldn’t get booked for certain things unless you dress to look “sexy”.”

On the other hand, only 21% of male musicians reported feeling pressured to conform to gender stereotypes to succeed in their careers. Within these responses, this seems to be due to homophobia rather than sexism where LGBTQ+ male musicians feel they can’t be their authentic selves.  

 Male musician “I don’t think as a queer male I could dress or feel safe dressing in genderqueer outfits”

Male musician“Often felt really uncomfortable to be my LGBTQ self on gigs. Once a drummer and bass player said they would walk off stage if I acted flamboyantly on stage.”


Sexual Harassment: A Pervasive Obstacle

The survey identified sexual harassment as the biggest obstacle faced by female musicians, with a troubling one in three (30%) reporting it as their most significant issue. This pervasive issue creates a hostile environment that discourages female participation and undermines their artistic journey.

Female musician “Being asked to do sexual acts to male patrons to get access to better career prospects”

Female musician – “Many people – both audience and bookers – hitting on me, making sexual advances and touching inappropriately”

Female musician – “Clients saying they want to book you then pester you with inappropriate messages.”

Female musician – “I have been sexually harassed by men in the industry several times” 


Beyond the Stereotypes: Fighting for Recognition

The survey also revealed a concerning prevalence of gender stereotypes. A significant portion (28%) of female musicians reported instances where their expertise and opinions were disregarded simply because of their gender.  From being denied opportunities to facing dismissive attitudes from male counterparts, these experiences highlight the deep-rooted biases that hinder their progress. 

Female musician “Quite often people will think I don’t know what I am talking about when it comes to music equipment and sound.”

Female musician – “I’ve also had a lot of older male boomers and fixers talk over me whilst I am speaking or asking someone else something and just interrupt me mid-conversation, repeatedly, on various sessions, these people also will not look at me when they are talking to me, only making eye contact with other males in the room.” 

Female musician “Being talked over or overlooked or not being taken seriously by male musicians and music professionals”


Exclusion and Other Challenges

The survey paints a picture of exclusion and other challenges. One in six (16%) female musicians cited a lack of opportunities as their biggest obstacle, while over one in seven (14%) reported unequal pay as their most significant problem.

Additionally, nearly one in 10 (9%) reported facing situations where their gender played a direct role in being denied opportunities. Other comments addressed the lack of gender-neutral language (“sound woman”) and the pressure to conform to certain behaviours during rehearsals.

Female musician “Not wanting to book me as a female artist as they thought I’d be more hassle.”

Female musician – “People wanting an all-male band.”

Female musician – “Had male pianists booked over me based on gender.”

Female musician “Getting paid less because supposedly I deliver less of a performance than men as I’m a solo guitarist-singer.”


Possible Solutions: Building a More Equitable Future

The survey also offered valuable insights into potential solutions. Several respondents emphasised the need for stricter regulations against harassment, alongside workshops and resources to empower women and build their confidence.

Female musician – “If something serious happens, like abuse or harassment, there is way too much of a fear of losing your career opportunities by speaking up. This must be addressed.”

Female musician“If there was some women’s union that we could report the incidents to and there be real consequences to the prejudice we experience.” 

Furthermore, promoting female representation in leadership positions and creating more gender-neutral opportunities were identified as crucial steps towards creating a more inclusive industry.

Female musician “More grants and spaces that enable women to develop their confidence and overcome imposter syndrome that many (not all) men don’t face.” 

Female musician – “I think that there needs to be more support for women in some of the professional aspects, to help them fit into a male world. Things like the way males just push themselves forward for opportunities or send cold call emails in a way that I don’t think women would – there should be support to help women do things like this.”



  • A total of 105 of our musicians were surveyed. The sample consisted of 60 female participants, 41 male participants, and 4 preferred not to say. 
  • The survey was open to all genders, but only females and males responded, so we only have their results represented.
  • Participation in the survey was entirely voluntary, and participants’ anonymity and confidentiality were strictly maintained throughout the process.


Final thoughts 

By providing our female and gender-diverse musicians a voice, we hope to foster a culture of respect and inclusivity, and ultimately we can create a music industry that truly celebrates the diverse tapestry of talent it encompasses.

We are going to use these findings to implement changes on our platform that make Encore a more inclusive place for all musicians. If you missed the survey, please feel free to get in touch with any suggestions. 

International Women’s Day Webinar and Interviews 

You can find the links to our series of interviews and live webinar for International Women’s Day below.

This interview covers financial tips for female and gender-diverse musicians. 

This interview discusses gender stereotypes and experiences for female and gender-diverse musicians in particularly male-dominated sections of the industry. 

The webinar covers sexual harassment, resources for female and gender-diverse musicians and solutions for a safer and more inclusive industry. 



A not-for-profit organisation supporting & celebrating nearly 6,000 female musicians based in the UK. 

Founded by Andreea Magdalina in 2014, Shesaid.so is a global community of women and gender-diverse musicians from all corners of the sector, music industry including record labels, artist management companies, and booking agencies, through to technology platforms, creative agencies, composers, artists and more

Founded by Natalie Wade and Niki Evangelou, The Cat’s Mother is a network of hard-working, established women in the music and creative industries offering free consultancy sessions, a networking space, and career guidance for young aspiring creatives aged 18-25.

A section of the Musicians Union’s website which includes regularly updated content and guidance including grant information and legal advice. 

A global network that offers talent development programmes for women and gender-expansive artists. Keychange also has a pledge for festivals, music organisations and companies to achieve gender balance with 500 businesses having already signed up. 


Ava-May Rooney

Ava-May is our specialist in SEO Content and Public Relations. Ava-May is a passionate music lover who appreciates various music styles, from neo-soul to Cambodian rap. She's worked at music festivals such as All Points East, British Summer Time, and Wide Awake and regularly attends gigs in her free time.

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