SHE – is against sexism in electronic music!

Ellen Allien. Image taken from:

Why men are still dominating the film and music scene? Until the last century a woman was meant to sit at home and take care of kids and housing. She was forbidden to do certain jobs and get equal education. In the beginning of the 20th century the oppressed woman question exploded in the majority of European countries broaching up the subject about equal rights between both genders (Engels, 1879: chapter 1). 

“She is the first human being which came into servitude. Women were slaves before men”


So, now almost a 100 years later are women less enthusiastic about music than men?

A lack of women in the music industries in general is a theme running through the work of Cohen (1991), Hutton (2006), and Robson (2007).  Sara Cohen’s work illustrates that women were not only underrepresented in the Liverpool rock scene of the late 1980s, but actively excluded, and Josie Robson’s work on female fandom and gender dynamics in Sheffield in the early 2000s finds a similar lack of female representation across the music industries in that city. Focusing on club cultures and feminine identities, Fiona Hutton’s work highlights the disadvantages to female club producers, because of their gender, which include lifestyle factors, financial factors and the ‘negotiation of a hegemonic masculine culture’ (p. 67).

Live Music Exchange Blog

‘It’s a very misogynistic business. The blokes in it are very egotistical’, and women have to learn to put up with sexist comments and jokes.


Peaches at White Trash. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Peaches at White Trash. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Are we less enthusiastic because we are repressed, because we lack the inspiration or because we are scared? Are there any technical issues? Or is it tits that interfere? Talking about electronic music, girls are generally less geeky, but then it does not mean they cannot learn the code.

“Technology now is so in your face. It’s much easier for women to learn and not be intimated. “

Tara Busch

The psychological pressure based on the stereotypical understanding of the music scene is high enough to scare off unconsciously. We just got used to seeing men at the deck and find it pretty comfortable. But there is no such fact – that men are more musically gifted than women, but then again the amount of girls choosing sonic studies is very little. There are enough women singing, but developing and promoting them are almost always menThe women who managed to state about themselves with certainty are very few indeed. The first who comes to my mind is wonderful Ellen Allien, a German electronic musician, music producer and founder of BPitch Control music label. And of course i cannot miss on Peaches – the godmother of electronic music and activist in Berlin.

Another factor is income. The Guardian search states that only 6% of women in the business earn more than £29,000 compared with 22% of men. So, where is equality?

Only 7% of the Ableton Live users are female.

Some interesting stats I found on Music festivals across the world and the number of participents:


Berlin Festival 2012
total: 87 acts / female: 12 / mixed: 9 / male: 66

CTM Festival 2013
total: 181 acts / female: 18 / mixed: 7 / unknown: 3 / male: 153

Fusion Festival 2012
total: 177 bands / female: 20 / mixed: 50 / male: 107


Dour Festival 2012
total: 232 acts / female: 5 / mixed: 17 / male: 210


Roskilde Festival 2011
total: 226 acts / female: 14 / mixed: 23 / male: 189


Flow Festival 2012
total: 133 acts / female: 7 / mixed: 24 / male: 102


TodaysArt 2012
total: 198 acts / female: 12 / mixed: 10 / male: 176

Check the link above for full festival and label list.

Two studies in the Journal of Applied Psychology called this the “penalty for success.” Women artists pay a social tax for their professional achievements that men do not. Women musicians cannot promote themselves in the same way that men do without facing negative consequences in the way they are perceived personally.

PJ Harvey. Image taken form:

SHE is an online Berlin platform for women musicians within electronic music. The project looks to create a database of contacts and a network of female artists, project leaders, songwriters, label owners, female issue leaders, musicians and bands to begin to address the gender inequalities in electronic music and give long lasting exposure to outstanding female artists. SHE gives a special support and calls to action.

Aim: Investors are welcome to become part of an innovative forward thinking project who will see a growth of members, artists and networks culminating in a central platform for female electronic artists and female artists issues. With a 1 year plan to build the network and then to launch the SHE Music Festival year long celebration which realises a 1 week festival of shows and events every 3 months. The future of the SHE Festival looks to host live events, workshops, live performances and open up discussion and debate about gender issues in electronic music.

This question is PhD worth, but it’s clear without a deep study – in the new Century we need a new way of thinking, the time comes when the old model just does not work anymore. And Berlin is to affirm it. SHE is here to stay. You can find more information about the project at: and

Matteo Giordano preview for Anna Bolena Bruitphonies Idroscalo Dischi 2013 from antonella pintus aka anna bolena on Vimeo.

  1. This is a great post Katja! Detailed and well written… its interested the figures about Abelton Users as its the main live software out there and used by almost all Live performing artists. Id like to get more facts and figures about the software and equipment our women artists use to produce and record. We’ve reposted this on Facebook! Keep up the good work! SHE Team

    • Thanks a lot for the nice words and the repost! Good luck with the future research and activities!

  2. Reblogged this on SHE Music Festival and commented:
    An Insightful and detailed article about the psychological pressures and subconsious barriers female artists can face in the electronic music industry. By Katja Avant-Hard

  3. Kristal said:

    My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was entirely right.
    This post actually made my day. You can not imagine just how much time I
    had spent for this information! Thanks!

  4. Yes, the figures are so insightful… SHE is in the process of gathering more of this data and information to get an even clearer picture of just how big this gender gap is!

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