Womxn of electronic music: Female empowerment in a male-centric industry

Surprisingly, or perhaps not, there are little to no statistics on womxn in the male-dominated EDM industry. It appears that there are so few female artists in electronic music that nobody bothered to count them. This is far from true; rather, the lack of data reflects the oversight that womxn artists are subjected to in their field. On just one particular Top 100 DJs list, only 12 of the artists featured are womxn. Surely there are more womxn active in the electronic scene, no? 

Not necessarily. There exists countless preconceived notions about womxn DJs that perpetuate sexism in the industry and keep female artists at the bottom of these aforementioned lists. Furthermore, factors such as lack of accessibility, support, and exposure act as hurdles for womxn to find success in EDM. To combat this, there are numerous projects and collectives which aim to empower womxn across the globe, and provide communities for them to thrive as electronic artists. 

Read on to explore the need for female-fronted movements, how said movements are empowering womxn, and why the term ‘womxn’ is important.

An escape from patriarchal language

In this article, the term ‘womxn’ is used as a replacement for ‘women’. It is a relatively new word that has become more prevalent in its usage, especially by intersectional feminists, to explicitly include trans women and nonbinary people. We believe it is important to use this word in our discussion to encompass all female-aligned individuals, not just those who are cisgender. 

Girls to the front

Womxn artists have long had to fight for their space in music. Most notably, the epic Riot Grrrl movement encouraged womxn to become more involved in the male-dominated punk scene. Once viewed as radical, it’s now commonplace to demand more recognition and opportunities for womxn, not just in music, but in general.

Is it necessary to have female-focused projects? In short, yes. We live in a patriarchal society where womxn are overlooked and undersupported every day, and it’s no different in electronic music. Just take a look at some of the figures for the biggest festivals worldwide: HuffPost noted that EDM-centered festivals have a larger gender imbalance than more mainstream festivals. Between 2011 and 2016, Ultra had 90% all-male acts, and Electric Forest had 85%. They also  reported that in 2014, only 18% of EDM labels included womxn on their rosters. 

So, if labels and festivals are overlooking womxn, somebody has to champion them. This is where female-focused projects, organisations, and collectives come in!

Grassroots empowerment

Born out of frustration towards the omission of womxn from EDM spaces, organisations such as Future Female Sounds strive to facilitate the growth and support of womxn who are interested in, and are passionate about, DJing. Similarly, global network female pressure provides a database of womxn in electronic music and digital arts, with the intent to strengthen communication and representation of lesser known female artists across the world. 

Where these larger collectives offer a community for womxn to hone their craft, passionate advocates for the empowerment of womxn in electronic music also focus on raising awareness of POC artists. For example, this extensive list features over 200 black femme identifying electronic DJs, producers, and artists. 

By interacting with and developing platforms that endorse and empower womxn, we can open our eyes to a world beyond the David Guetta’s of the industry – to a future of festivals with gender balance, to more labels who recruit as many womxn as men, and to vast opportunities for talented womxn. These womxn exist, but they’re existing in the shadows of men. Let’s shine a light on them.

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