Women in music were represented more than in previous years, new study shows

Victoria Monét, Coco Jones and SZA are just a few female artists whose smash hits earned them the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts.

(Left to right) Victoria Monét and her mother, L'Tanya Chestang Cubit, are shown onstage at Billboard Women In Music 2024, where the proud parent surprised her daughter, presenting the singer with her award. (Photo by Rich Polk/Billboard via Getty Images)

The music industry has experienced a notable improvement in female artists topping the Billboard charts and earning more recognition for their contributions to various genres. On the red carpet for the Billboard Women in Music award show on March 6, theGrio spoke with an array of recording artists about the industry’s shift and how, in recent years, women have emerged as leaders in the traditionally male-dominated field. 

“Women are the most innovative people in this space,” Tinashe said. “We continuously need to be celebrated and given our flowers. It’s so nice that we have these opportunities to do such. There are so many new artists who are killing it right now, and other girls who have been doing it for a really long time are getting recognized. I am just so happy to see all of it.”

Women across all musical genres were honored at Billboard Women In Music for their commitment to their craft and pushing culture forward with their unique sounds. Victoria Monét, Tems, Ice Spice, GloRilla, Coco Jones and other female artists were there to accept their awards and support their peers.

In a space filled with female musicians to celebrate, the night also signified the positive changes being made for women in the music industry. 

A recent Spotify-supported study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that at the end of 2023, solo female artists filled 40.6 percent of spots on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart. That rise in female representation also spans across music’s behind-the-scenes roles. 

The percentage of female songwriters jumped to 5.4 percent, nearly exclusively due to the increase in women of color receiving a songwriting credit last year. Researchers found that 55 women of color received a songwriting credit in 2023, which was noted as significant growth compared to the 33 women of color credited in 2022 and 14 in 2012.

“For the second year in a row, the percentage of women artists on the popular charts has increased,” said Stacy L. Smith, an associate professor of communication at USC. “This is a notable milestone and worthy of celebration. However, it is still important to recognize that there is room to grow. Women filled less than one-quarter of artist roles across all 12 years examined, and these figures are still far from representing the 50 percent of women in the population and the music audience.”

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Women were spotlighted more as the music industry celebrated its artists’ achievements throughout the previous year. Victoria Monét, Coco Jones, SZA and other female artists have swept through the 2024 awards season. Monét has been one of the most talked about R&B singers since transitioning as a performing artist after prioritizing songwriting for over a decade. She was honored with the Rising Star Award at the Billboard Women in Music ceremony.

The 2024 Grammys was another occasion where female artists shined across various categories.

R&B songstress SZA earned the title of securing the most Grammy nominations for her chart-topping sophomore album, “SOS,” which broke the record for having the longest placement at No.1 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart — 41 weeks — in 2023. Last month, she was rewarded big and took home three Grammy Awards, including one for Best Progressive R&B Album. 

Monét and Jones also won at the Grammys. Monét earned several nominations and was handed three trophies for her debut album, “Jaguar II,” which featured her No.1 hit, “On My Mama.” Jones, after receiving multiple Grammy nominations, walked away a first-time winner for her chart-topper, “ICU.” 

Female artists, alongside other women in music, continue to push the meter forward and have succeeded in gaining more traction throughout the years. Still, achieving equality for female representation in the music industry remains an uphill battle.

“We would be nowhere without a woman’s touch on every facet of culture and the globe,” Candiace Dillard Bassett told theGrio. “We would be remiss if we were not honoring contributions to women in music in every entry and in every field.”

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