Staggeringly few females have been nominated in these categories in past years
In the lead up to the 2017 Juno Awards, indie-pop duo Tegan and Sara called out the this year’s ceremony for the low number of women nominees. And the numbers back them up—not just for this year, but in years past as well.
This year, the single of the year, artist of the year, and album of the year categories each feature only one woman each.
There are several options available to increase the number of women highlighted at the Junos, from looking at the selection process within the Junos, to how the Canadian government controls what content is played on commercial radio stations.
But before prescribing solutions, we need to look at the numbers and see what the real trends are. Because it turns out that the underrepresentation of women at the Junos goes beyond singles and album awards.
Over the past ten years, men have been more likely to get most of the big Juno awards than women. For example, since 2007, men have won 38 singles of the year and 43 albums of the year, while women won 16 and 13 respectively.
Already we’re seeing serious underrepresentation, but the really surprising numbers come in the producer of the year and engineer of the year categories.
Women have only received nine nominations for producer of the year over the past ten years, and no nominations at all for engineer of the year. Men won 53 and 55, respectively.
While there is a very stark contrast here, you might ask why these categories are so important. It turns out that producers and engineers aren’t just soulless automatons who press buttons and dial in the auto-tune. They have a clear voice in how a musician’s sound is created. Producers especially are known for helping to shape an artist’s music.
So if all the producers and engineers are being drawn from only one half of our population, we’re missing out on a lot of talented people who could be shaping our music in a positive way. This is especially important in the Canadian music industry, which is always struggling to distinguish itself from the American musical behemoth.
Not only are the roles of producers and engineers important for shaping the industry, but they’re stable, fulfilling, and potentially lucrative careers. If a large swath of the population isn’t getting involved, we should be trying to figure out why.
Canada is not alone on this issue. Over the years, the producer of the year category at the Grammys has been equally dominated by men. But maybe in our smaller industry, it will take less effort to turn things around.