Government rejects recommendations of Misogyny In Music report

The UK government has rejected the recommendations suggested by the Misogyny In Music report to improve gender equality in the music industry.

The report was published in January by the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC), which warned that women in the music industry face “endemic” misogyny and discrimination and said “urgent action” was required to tackle the issue.

The document described the industry as a “boys’ club” where sexual harassment and abuse are common, and the non-reporting of such incidents is high. Victims who do speak out struggle to be believed or may find their career ends as a consequence, it claimed.

The WEC stated that women in music still encounter limitations in opportunity, a lack of support and persistent unequal pay – with these said to be intensified for those facing intersectional barriers, particularly racial discrimination.


It said that female artists are “routinely undervalued and undermined, endure a focus on their physical appearance in a way that men are not subjected to, and have to work far harder to get the recognition their ability merits”.

Following the report, the WEC – a cross-party committee of MPs – has made “a series of strong and wide-ranging recommendations” and urged ministers to take legislative steps to amend the Equality Act.

This would ensure that freelance workers have the same protections from discrimination as employees, and would bring into force Section 14 to improve protections for people facing intersectional inequality.

Female sound engineer
A female sound engineer in a recording studio working on a track behind a glass window

The WEC also recommended that the UK government should legislate to impose a duty on employers to protect workers from sexual harassment by third parties, a proposal the government initially supported and then rejected last year.

It also called for an investment in diversity schemes by both the wider industry and government, especially for male-dominated areas such as A&R, sound engineering and production.

Additionally, the committee urged record labels to commit to regular publication of statistics on the diversity of their rosters. It said that all organisations with more than 100 employees should be required to publish data on the diversity of their workforce, as well as gender and ethnicity pay gaps.


Furthermore, since the report highlighted the use of NDAs that left victims of sexual harassment and abuse “threatened into silence”, the WEC recommended prohibiting their use  in cases involving sexual abuse, sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, bullying or harassment, and discrimination relating to a protected characteristic. It has also recommended that the government should consider a retrospective moratorium on NDAs for those who have signed them relating to the issues outlined.

Now, the Government has responded to the report. Although its response said that “everyone should be able to work in the music industry without being subject to misogyny and discrimination”, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed it won’t take any of the recommended actions.

In response to the news, the chief executive of the Independent Society of Musicians (ISM) Deborah Annetts said: ‘The Misogyny in Music report should have been a moment of immediate and lasting change for the music industry. The report laid bare the incredibly serious problems the sector has and the entirely reasonable steps Government should take the rectify them.

“For the Government to choose not to make music safer for women is painfully disappointing, if sadly not surprising. The brilliant women who make our music industry what it is deserve better.”

Meanwhile, Safe Gigs For Women added: “We are saddened to read that this government has rejected the Misogyny in Music report published in January by the Women and Equalities Committee. Sexual violence changes lives – inaction is inexcusable.”

The Musicians’ Union has also voiced their disappointment at the government’s response. “The MU are deeply disappointed in the government’s response to the Misogyny In Music report and shocked that the select committee’s recommendations have been rejected in this way,” said their General Secretary Naomi Pohl.

“Women from across the music industry have bravely shared their experiences of misogyny, sexual harassment and abuse as well as other very real barriers they face whilst working in the industry,” she continued. “The government had an opportunity to listen and learn from those lived experiences and implement the changes that the select committee’s report recommended. Instead, the government decided that women’s safety is not a priority. Again, survivors are not being listened to”.

“The Equality Act is out of date and does not reflect how people see themselves or how they work, it needs updating as a matter of urgency. The industry needs increased funding to support targeted action to improve diversity and an improved legislative framework that reflects the way musicians work. The government has committed to neither”.

“We urge the government to rethink its position and implement the recommendations from the report”, she concluded.

Last November, the UK government called for evidence from women in the music industry who had been asked to sign NDAs to silence sexual assault allegations as part of the WEC report.

During a hearing in September, DJ Annie Mac claimed that there was a “tidal wave” of sexual abuse cases throughout the music industry that had yet to come to light. The broadcaster described the music business as “a boys’ club” that was “kind of rigged against women”