How has the gender gap evolved in Latin American stages?
The team behind Ruidosa Fest, an organization led by singer Francisca Valenzuela, conducted a study that shows that women represent less that one fourth of the shows held between 2016 and 2018.
In early 2016, when the Ruidosa Fest project began, no data were available about men’s and women’s presence in Latin American stages; therefore, they decided to collect the data themselves. Their first study analyzed 25 festivals in 2016 and 2017 in 17 countries of the region, revealing that the percentage of women’s musical numbers (including both solo women artists and all-women bands) represented only 9.5% of the total, which rose to a modest 22.5% if mixed bands were considered. This analysis provided real figures to support a generalized diagnosis that was becoming evident in music industry: the lack of women onstage.
Since then, the debate about the gender gap in the music industry has become increasingly visible. For instance, multiple initiatives have been implemented throughout Latin America (like Ruidosa, La Matria, and FemFest, to name but a few) and several agreements have been signed to work to create a more equitable music industry. In this context, we must ask ourselves whether we have actually advanced toward parity in music shows, reflecting the diversity of competent, challenging, and powerful women creators in Latin America.
In 2018, the original study was updated with the analysis of festivals conducted in the second half of 2017 and the first half of 2018 in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico to determine whether more women performers have appeared on stage.
The analysis of over 3,000 artists and bands shows that female participation (solo artists and all-women bands) is under 10% of all music numbers in each of the three years examined: 9.1% on 2016, 10% in 2017, and 10.1% in 2018, remaining constant over three years. If we include mixed bands (those with at least one woman), the figure goes up to nearly one fourth of music performances: 23.1% in 2016, 21.7% in 2017, and 23.9% in the first half of 2018. This again reflects the significant gender representation disparity on stage: over the last three years, seven to eight of 10 of the numbers featured in the region’s festivals have been male solo artists or all-men bands.
When there is no parity in representation (not only in music, but in all areas of creative industries), certain sensitivities, perspectives, and stories are invisibilized and sidelined. Therefore, we at Ruidosa expect that more festivals in our region make a commitment to gender equality not only in their rosters but also in terms of role diversity.