Women in music include women as composers, songwriters, instrumental performers, singers, conductors, music scholars, music educators, music critics/music journalists and in other musical professions. As well, it describes music movements (e.g., women’s music, which is music written and performed by women for women), events and genres related to women, women’s issues and feminism.
In the 2010s, while women constitute a significant proportion of popular music and classical music singers, and a significant proportion of songwriters (many of them being singer-songwriters), there are few women record producers, rock critics and rock instrumentalists. Notable women artists in pop, such as Bjork and Lady Gaga have commented about sexism and gender discrimination in the music industry. Additionally, a recent study led by Dr. Smith announced that “…over the last six years, the representation of women in the music industry has been even lower”. In classical music, although there have been a huge number of women composers from the Medieval period to the present day, women composers are significantly underrepresented in the commonly performed classical music repertoire, music history textbooks and music encyclopedias; for example, in the Concise Oxford History of Music, Clara Schumann is one of the only female composers who is mentioned.
Women constitute a significant proportion of instrumental soloists in classical music and the percentage of women in orchestras is increasing. A 2015 article on concerto soloists in major Canadian orchestras, however, indicated that 84% of the soloists with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal were men. In 2012, women still made up just 6% of the top-ranked Vienna Philharmonic orchestra. Women are less common as instrumental players in popular music genres such as rock and heavy metal, although there have been a number of notable female instrumentalists and all-female bands. Women are particularly underrepresented in extreme metal genres. Women are also underrepresented in orchestral conducting, music criticism/music journalism, music producing, and sound engineering. While women were discouraged from composing in the 19th century, and there are few women musicologists, women became involved in music education “to such a degree that women dominated [this field] during the later half of the 19th century and well into the 20th century.”