On January 28th at the 2018 Grammys, women continued to support the Time’s Up legal defense fund and speak out against sexual harassment and abuse by wearing white roses on their lapels. And Kesha’s stirring performance of “Praying” continued the conversation of overcoming sexual abuse. But despite these efforts to advocate for women, men were still the night’s big winners.
Bruno Mars won the most Grammys of the evening, taking home seven, while female artists were largely shut out. One particularly striking example was the award for Best Pop Solo Performance, which Ed Sheeran took home for “Shape of You,” despite being the only male in a pool of nominees that included Kesha, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, and Lady Gaga. In total, only one woman received a solo Grammy during the 2018 ceremony.
And it wasn’t just the awards that went to men. Lorde, who was the only female artist nominated for Album of the Year, was also the only nominee who wasn’t invited to perform during the ceremony.
Twitter users were quick to point out the inequality at the 2018 Grammys, and soon the hashtag #GrammysSoMale was trending.
When Variety asked Recording Academy President Neil Portnow about the absence of women from the awards, Portnow responded that women need to “step up.”
The Grammys used to divide each award into male and female categories. But these categories were combined in 2011 to increase competition. And as a result, women seem to have suffered. A University of Southern California study published on January 25th found that between 2013 and 2018, only 9.3 percent of Grammy nominees were female.
With such a low percentage of female nominees, it’s clear that this problem is much larger than women needing to “step up.” And to be clear, the lack of female recognition at the Grammys is not the entire problem; it’s just a symptom of the systemic discrimination in the entertainment industry (not to mention the discrimination people of color face, too). We need the Recording Academy — and the music industry as a whole — to recognize the gender imbalance in music and work to correct it.