Women have been making significant contributions to the music industry for decades, yet they still face many barriers and challenges in achieving recognition and equal opportunity in their field. From production to management and beyond, most areas of the industry continue to be largely dominated by men.
Fortunately, a growing number of organizations have emerged over the years to support and empower women and gender-diverse musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers, and industry professionals in the music business. These organizations provide mentorship, funding, networking opportunities, and more, while working to promote diversity, inclusivity, and gender equality in the world of music.
If you’re a woman or gender-diverse person in music – or a male colleague seeking ways to be an ally – check out these wonderful organizations below.
Women in Music
Women in Music (WiM) is a non-profit organization with chapters around the globe, welcoming members from any line of work in music, at any stage in their career. They currently have Canadian chapters in Montreal, Ottawa, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Atlantic.
“Women in Music hosts educational, career development and networking events alongside broader programming initiatives, industry engagement, research and advocacy to serve the needs of our diverse community.” — Women in Music Canada
One of the many things they offer is their annual Entrepreneur Accelerator, a six-week professional development program for both artists and people running a music business. The program brings in established industry professionals to mentor the participants – who are selected through an application process – and provides educational sessions focused on key areas of entrepreneurship in music.
They also offer a wealth of other resources, including a directory which connects female and gender-diverse artists and professionals across the country, a job board, a newsletter, and links to research, mental health, funding, and more.
For locally based events and opportunities, check out the WiM chapter nearest you. They often host workshops, panels, and networking events.
“Our mission is to connect and empower underrepresented communities towards a more equitable music industry for all, one woman or gender nonconforming person at a time.” — shesaid.so website
shesaid.so is a global independent community with 18 chapters around the world, bringing together people from all sectors of the music industry and beyond. Intersectional feminism is at the core of their ethos, and their mission includes breaking stereotypes, promoting the work and accomplishments of diverse role models, increasing opportunities across all industry sectors and levels, raising awareness on the gender gap, and lobbying for effective policy change.
There are several different membership options to join shesaid.so, depending on who you are and what you’re looking for (this includes opportunities for allies, both as an individual or a company!). Memberships include access to the private international community (3000+ industry people) where you can connect with other members based on interests and location, access to industry events and job opportunities, exclusive educational content, discounts from their partners, and more.
There are also many free resources, including their newsletter and online job portal. They put on great events around the world and online, as well as local events hosted by their many chapters. If you’re based in or near Montreal, we highly recommend you check out their social channels to stay up to date on all that they offer.
They also have 1:1 mentorship programs called she.grows and we.grow, the latter of which is in partnership with Keychange, another gender-equality advocacy organization that encourages festivals and music organizations to achieve a 50:50 gender balance.
SoundGirls is an international organization that provides support for people of all genders working in professional audio and music production, an area of the industry that is particularly affected by significant gender disparities.
Whether your interest lies in live sound, film and TV, post-production, radio and podcasts, or otherwise, you’ll find a myriad of valuable resources and educational content on their website and podcast. You can also receive support in the form of career development tools, networking and job opportunities, and sexual harassment resources. Members also have access to exclusive events including studio tours, seminars, and workshops, as well as discounts from a variety of pro audio companies.
In 2018, SoundGirls partnered with Spotify to launch The EQUAL Directory, a global database of professionals that seeks to amplify women and gender non-conforming people’s work. The directory allows users to search based on location and skill(s), making it easier than ever to hire and be hired as a woman. You can join and create a profile for free!
Canada has four SoundGirls chapters: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Alberta.
Honey Jam is a non-profit artist development program that has been around since 1995. They work with young performing artists of all cultural backgrounds and musical genres, offering vocal and performance coaching as well as excellent mentoring and networking opportunities. This includes songwriting camps, access to industry events and conferences (including the Junos!), masterclasses with major artists, meetings with industry pros, performance opportunities, and much more.
“It is a welcoming, supportive sisterhood and a safe space for young women to not only learn about the industry but also to be vulnerable, to build self esteem and long-lasting relationships.” — Honey Jam website
To audition for the Honey Jam program, you must be between the ages of 14 and 25. Live auditions are held once a year in Toronto, where Honey Jam is based (though if you are unable to attend live, you can submit online). At the end of the program, artists perform at a live showcase with key industry players in attendance.
Moving towards gender equality not only benefits women and gender-diverse people, but according to UN Women, it has a positive impact on companies as well. Organizations and programs like the ones mentioned above are doing the vital work required to get the music industry closer to that goal each day, so join them and take full advantage of the resources they offer – or support them as an ally in the best way you can.
Keep an eye out for part two of our Resources for Women & Gender-Diverse People in the Music Industry series.
Text written by Andria Piperni
lllustration by Yihong Guo