For the past 35 years, Women in Music has fought to empower, educate and advance women in the music industry. The organization's 35th year comes with many accomplishments worldwide, but progress is still to be made.
Women in Music’s president Nicole Barsalona said the mission of advancing women in the music industry came after realizing how "male-dominated" the music industry was back in 1985.
“Today, there are a lot more women in the industry, but there is still a power gap in the decision-making roles at the heads of the industry,” Barsalona said.
She said the power and "leadership gap" where decisions are made is at the top of the ladder, which is why Women in Music tries to get women past what is known as “the broken rung” on the corporate ladder.
The disproportion of males to females in the music industry comes as a struggle internationally, nationally and even locally.
“It's hard sometimes because you feel like a minority and that your voice doesn't really matter as much as the majority of the group,” third-year public relations student Mia Green said.
Green is a singer and songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia, who has been performing at live venues since she was 14 years old. She said that being surrounded by so many talented male musicians used to come as a struggle to her because she did not want her voice to get “lost in the mix.”
The gender divide might pose a negative sentiment, but the connections between the females in the industry have empowered their voices.
“Making sure that you can see a person who looks like you, has the similar perspective as you, has the kind of life that you aspire to in a role that you aspire to, I think is incredibly important for young people to be able to kind of work toward that and know that it is possible,” Barsalona said.
Green said it’s a "blessing" for her to know the other females in her local scene so well and be able to reflect and give each other advice.
Kenzie McCarter is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who works as a DJ remotely for a local radio station in her hometown. She is one of the only local female DJs.
“Usually you see five male songs in a row before you see one female song,” said McCarter, a second-year sports and entertainment management student.
McCarter said equal airplay on the radio between males and females needs to be fought for.
The oversexualization of women in pop culture is also a prevalent issue in the industry. McCarter said while some women are fine with the oversexualization, others, such as Billie Eilish and Chelsea Cutler, do not want to be treated that way. However, McCarter said she is seeing progress on these issues.
“I'm really glad that organizations like Women in Music and just so many other great platforms of females are starting to kind of break that mold in people's minds,” McCarter said.
Barsalona’s advice to women in college who want to dive deeper into the music industry is to join organizations such as Women in Music, start networking and reach out to people, and attend events.
Where women are seen, heard and involved, the reach and support will grow.
Although Women in Music can’t host the gala event it had planned to celebrate its 35th year, it will be doing a virtual celebration to celebrate the women within the organization who have made impactful changes throughout the year.
Women in Music will be launching an internship program in 2021 and is working on a program for university and college representatives who want to get involved with the organization.