Right now, Justin Bieber has more songs in the Top 20 than women do


Working as a woman in the pop music industry means you’re alongside plenty of female superstars—Rihanna, Taylor, Adele, Beyoncé, Gaga, Katy—but most of your colleagues are men. The songwriters are men. The producers are men. Even most of the performers are men. Just take a look at the hallowed ground of the Top 40.

This week, the gender divide in the Top 40 is abysmal. Only 25% of songs were performed by women. There are just as many songs by women in the Top 20 (3) as there are songs by Justin Bieber.

Things are no no better than they were last year. For all of 2015, women only made up 25.8% of the 178 performances that hit the Top 40.

In November 2015, women were 22. 5% of the Top 40. In October, women were 22.5 % of the Top 40. In September, women were 22.5 % of the Top 40. In August, women were 17% of the Top 40. For the first half of 2015, women were 29% of the Top 40.

That number—25%—manages to hold steady despite how many songs come and go in the Top 40. This week, women make up 30% of songs in the Top 10, but only 15% of the Top 20.

It’s almost like there’s a cap on how many women are allowed to succeed on the charts,—in the American consumption of music.

In addition, again this month, women make up an even smaller percentage of the songwriters on the Top 40. Only 19 of the 138 writers it took to make the 40 most popular songs in America were women. That’s 13.7%.

In fact, the only positive jump we’ve seen in the gender representation this month is for producers of Top 40 music. In October, women only made up 1.2% of producers. In November, that number climbed to 3.8%. For all of 2015, women made up only 3.2% of producers.

But here we are, in 2016, and women produced 7% of songs!

The songs that included a woman on production are “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” by Meghan Trainor and John Legend; “Me, Myself & I” by G Eazy and Bebe Rexha; “Antidote” by Travis Scott; “Cake By the Ocean” by DNCE; and “Perfect” by One Direction.

Congratulations to all! Not only did each of these songs have a woman on the production team, they also had women in the writing credits.

Still: These statistics suck in a world that’s half female. Nothing to toot a horn or throw a parade for.

Despite the stacks and stacks of CDs Adele sold, and all the hype surrounding Rihanna’s album, women remain underrepresented and under-appreciated in pop music. Something has to change.

Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.

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