After some criticized the Grammys for a lack of women winning major awards, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow told Variety it’s on women to “step up” if they want more awards.
“I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on the executive level to step up,” Portnow said. “Because I think they would be welcome. I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it’s really a combination. Us as an industry making the welcome mat very obvious, creating mentorships, creating opportunities not only for women but all people who want to be creative and really paying it forward and creating the next generation of artists who feel like they can do anything, they can say anything.”
The controversy stems from several outcomes of the show: First, Lorde, the only woman to be nominated in the album of the year category, was also the only nominee in that category who wasn’t asked to perform during the awards show.
Only one woman received an award in the major solo categories; Alessia Cara won best new artist. Female R&B artist SZA, the most-nominated woman with five, did not win any award.
Also, the best pop solo performance category featured four women (Kelly Clarkson, Kesha, Lady Gaga and Pink) and one man (Ed Sheeran), and Sheeran, who was not at the show, won the award.
Outraged artists and viewers took to Twitter, some by starting the hashtag #GrammysSoMale to voice their displeasure.
Once again, #EdSheeran wins over much stronger female contenders, so instead of #kesha's song about overcoming sex… https://t.co/O8sDGvA5Hd— Anya Silver (@Anya Silver) 1517188651.0
A total of 90.7% of nominees between 2013 and 2018 were male, meaning just 9.3% were women. #TimesUp #Grammys— Janelle Monáe, Cindi Mayweather (@Janelle Monáe, Cindi Mayweather) 1517099404.0
Despite how it was received, organizers of the show denied gender bias as a factor in how the show was put together.
“I don’t know if it was a mistake,” Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich said. “These shows are a matter of choices. We have a box and it gets full. [Lorde] had a great album. There’s no way we can really deal with everybody.