Women Assistants and Male Executives? Understanding Gender Barriers in the Dutch Music Industry


Since 2013, female popular music stars have gained visibility and prominence in the international music industry, often ranking at the top of international charts. However, behind the performance stage, women are gravely underrepresented. In fact, women ‘behind the scenes’ occupy less than 15% of paid positions internationally (Leonard 2014). For over a century, labor positions have been consistently segmented by gender. This disparity appears rooted in specific industrial demands and is accentuated by a predominantly masculine discourse, but due to a lack of data, such gender processes are not yet fully understood (Leonard 2014). Therefore, this study investigates the socio-cultural practices disadvantaging women working behind the scenes within the Dutch music industry. By integrating sociological approaches, feminist and gender frameworks, and cultural theories, new insights gained aim to support the important debate on how to address this gender gap and further how to approach this societal challenge. A more comprehensive perspective on the institutions, social practices, and cultural beliefs which perpetuate such gender inequality in the music business will be followed by an investigation of how women can rather excel in their jobs in ways both benefitting the industry as well as culture and society more generally. Labor inequality prohibits human empowerment and is a waste of talent and capital. As the music industry is an agent of change (Lee 2013), endowed with a symbolic and exemplary role, understanding its gender disparity is critical for providing answers to the challenges of our globalizing, post-industrial information age.


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. K.A. McGee

Affiliated with

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Faculteit der Letteren, Muziek- en Theaterwetenschap


01/01/2018 to 31/12/2018