The Gender Gaps Shaping the Grammys

Awards season is upon us—and, along with it, much ado about persistent gender gaps in the entertainment industry. New research from the USC Annenberg Inclusivity Initiative serves as a powerful reminder that the Grammy Awards should be no exception—and that the music industry at-large has far to go to get to equal representation across lines of gender and race.

Staggering gaps in women’s representation across the music industry impact the Grammys—and shape culture. (James Munson / Creative Commons

Analysis by USC researchers of 700 chart-topping songs by 1,455 artists found that only 21.7 percent were by women—and only 12.3 percent of the songwriters and 2.1 percent of the producers were women. These numbers show that women make up a significant number of popular recording artists, even if they remain underrepresented—but that the people in control of their content are largely men.

Despite a stronger showing for artists of color—44 percent of the songs analyzed featured a non-white singer, and the recording artists with the most credits were Rihanna, the leading woman with 21 solo credits, and Drake, the leading man with 33—only four women of color producers were listed out of 871 total mentioned in the study. The numbers of songwriters, too, suffered from double-binds of racism and sexism: Max Martin, a white man, led with 39 songwriting credits; Nicki Minaj, who was the leading female songwriter, only had 18.

When 75 woman songwriters and producers were asked by USC researchers to name their biggest barriers to success, 43 percent reported that their skills were discounted by others in the industry. These gender gaps shape the Grammys: From 2013 to 2019, only 10.4 percent of Grammy nominees at-large were women.

The study’s authors outlined solutions that could help the music industry reach parity, including fostering all-female spaces and “creating environments where women are welcome.” The experiences of those same 75 women showed what impact that could have: 39 percent said they had been objectified, 28 percent said their ideas were dismissed and 25 percent said that they were the only woman in the room.

Gaps in gender representation across the music industry don’t just prevent women from advancing or achieving acclaim—they push them out of the studio. Time’s up on that kind of sexism. Instead, it’s time to demand action.

Ashley LeCroy is an editorial intern for Ms. and a passionate self-identified feminist who aims both to advocate and make space for the world’s most marginalized communities. Ashley is currently pursuing a dual degree in Political Science and English with a minor in Anthropology at UCLA—where she writes for FEM, the student-run feminist news magazine, and works on the Art Series staff for the Cultural Affairs Commission.

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‘Supergirl’: Season 4 Is Shaping Up To Be The Best Yet

SPOILER ALERT: The following article contains potential SPOILERS for Supergirl Season 4. Proceed at your own risk.

Much has been made about the state of the DC Comics/Warner Bros extended cinematic universe — or Worlds of DC as it’s now referred to — in the wake of Batman V Superman and Justice League. The future for the studio’s linchpins remains firmly up in the air, particularly with both Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck reportedly out as the aforementioned heroes. Aquaman and Wonder Woman 1984 should both go some way to repairing the damage and pushing the franchise forward before some big decisions are made. But if fans are in need of a DC superhero fix in an arena that’s got it mostly right, there’s some very special stuff happening on the small screen over in the Arrowverse.

Aside from The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, Arrowverse shows all going great guns, it’s perhaps Supergirl that has come on the most since its inception staking a claim as the best of the Arrowverse offering. Last season provided plenty of fireworks, and has laid the groundwork for its fourth, which is shaping up to be its best ever.

Kara Becomes Unstoppable

Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers/Supergirl.

So where do we find Kara Danvers aka Supergirl after the traumatic – and, indeed, brutal – events of Season 3? For those of you still playing catch-up, the previous season brought new threats and villains but it was the arrival of Reign (Odette Annabelle), a genetically-enhanced Kryptonian Worldkiller, who brought the Girl of Steel and the whole of National City to its knees. Thankfully, Supergirl was able to defeat Reign with Harun-El, a powerful Kryptonian rock, which allowed her to turn back time briefly after Sam (Reign’s human self) and Mon-El died in the fray. But her actions didn’t come without consequences (more on those later). There have been fallouts – J’onn (David Harewood) and Winn (Jeremy Jordan) have left the DEO – but Kara has managed to regain some semblance of control in juggling her double life, and with it has come an empowerment that she perhaps hasn’t had since she first landed in National City. She will need her wits about her though…

Freedom Fighters

Rhona Mitra and Robert Baker as Mercy and Otis Graves in Supergirl.

Why? Because those pesky bad guys aren’t resting on their laurels. Season 4 looks set to be the most expansive in terms of villains, with a few threads set to stretch through the entire run. But to begin with, we have the introduction of siblings Mercy and Otis Graves, a couple of self-styled ‘freedom fighters’ attempting to rid National City, and Earth, of aliens for good. Their mission, along with Agent Liberty and their humans-first group Children of Liberty, is to destabilise the city with a series of anti-alien attacks. They’re fighting against those who deem aliens worthy of inclusion, including Supergirl herself. Such attacks will push Kara’s allegiances to her human compatriots — including her sister Alex, James Olsen and Lena Luthor, in particular — to places they haven’t gone before, and will potentially drag her relationships with J’onn, Brainiac-5 and her Kryptonian allies into murky waters.

Doppelgangers From Under the Red Son

The mysterious House of El-suited figure from the Season 4 trailer of Supergirl.

And if that wasn’t enough, the stakes are set to be raised even higher, with another of the big bads Kara herself, in the form of Dark Supergirl. As previously mentioned, Supergirl was able to utilise Harun-El to turn back time to bring some her loved ones back from the dead after her battle with Reign, but with such timeline dalliances, the rock spliced a piece of Kara that spat out a doppelganger into the cold snows of Siberia. In the comics, Dark Supergirl was something of a “warped” version of our hero, and the show is set to combine elements from those stories as well as pay homage to classic Superman comic Red Son which saw a version of the Man of Steel raised in Russia. Could Dark Supergirl be trained by Siberian and Russian military to wipe out the real Girl of Steel? The idea of this screen battle has us salivating.

Friends, Aliens and Luthors

Katie McGrath as Lena Luthor in Supergirl.

Aside from Kara’s own personal journey, Season 4 looks set to delve deeper into the relationships between the show’s supporting players.

Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) looks to be at the core of the new season. Despite her best efforts to detach herself from her mother, Lillian, and brother, Lex, Lena has found herself drawn back towards a darker path after her run-ins with Reign and Harun-El, the latter of which she is still hellbent on utilising. Her relationship with Supergirl has always had a fractious edge and with the power of Krypton almost within her reach, the two aren’t going to become friends anytime soon.

Alex, meanwhile, has been promoted to Director of the DEO after J’onn’s departure, who, himself, is now looking at the world around him in a different light. This gives Alex some much-needed focus after the crushing heartbreak from her break-up with Maggie and losing Winn, who flew off into the future with the Legion. And what of James Olsen? Now unmasked to the world as Guardian, he has to fight his vigilante instincts, with both CatCo and Lena needing his attention now.

The Road to Gotham City and Elseworlds

As is now a trademark of these DC series, no new season would be complete without a crossover event. This year’s offering is perhaps the biggest and most expansive the worlds have seen so far. Much is still being kept under wraps, but we do know that it will be based in some part on DC’s Elseworlds comic books, which acted as out-of-continuity alongside the main stories of the time. There are lots of rumours about what’s going to happen through the offshoot, but what seems certain is that the show will feature Smallville – including the introduction of Lois Lane for the first time, played by Elizabeth Tulloch – and Nora Fries, wife of Mr. Freeze. But what has fans truly excited is the arrival of Ruby Rose’s Batwoman, of whom we caught our first glimpse in costume recently. A Batwoman series shouldn’t be too far away — after which we play a waiting game for an appearance from a certain Dark Knight.

Supergirl Season 4 is airing now in the US and premieres in the UK on October 22.

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