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MU Deeply Disappointed as Government Fails to Address Misogyny in the Music Industry

Today the UK Government has responded to the Misogyny in Music Report and rejected recommendations that would help protect and support women in the music industry from harassment and discrimination, despite hearing strong evidence from women, experts and organisations in the sector.

Published: 19 April 2024 | 3:41 PM
Hand turns a wooden cube and changes an unequal sign to an equal sign between symbols of men and women, on an orange background.
We urge the Government to rethink its position and implement the recommendations from the report. Image credit: Shutterstock.

In 2023 the MU submitted written evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) inquiry into Misogyny in Music and participated in an oral evidence session to represent the views of our women members, in the hope of tackling some of the issues and barriers women face working in the music industry. This evidence helped to form part of the Misogyny in Music Report.

A wealth of evidence exists to support the Committee’s recommendations and highlight the issues women musicians face. The MU’s latest Musicians’ Census report, Women in Music lays out the challenging circumstances for women working in the music industry.

Women experience a higher prevalence of specific career barriers like inadequate child care access and many more women report experiencing discrimination than men, with 51% of women reporting experiencing gender discrimination and 33% reporting being sexually harassed while working as a musician. Almost two thirds of respondents said that this abuse and harassment is a career barrier.

The Government has failed to address any of these issues

In its response, the Government has rejected multiple recommendations to amend the Equality Act 2010 that would improve protections for freelance workers, recognise intersectional discrimination and extend the time limit for bringing discrimination claims to an employment tribunal from three to six months. The MU have been lobbying the Government on the need for these improvements for many years.

The Government also refused to commit to implementing legislation to protect workers from sexual harassment by third parties, a proposal the Government initially supported and then rejected last year when they decided to water down the Worker Protection Bill.  

Harassment by third parties is a particular issue for women musicians. MU research in 2019 found that 47% of members have been harassed by a third party such as an audience member.

The Government also refused to extend Shared Parental Leave to self-employed workers, a policy that is cost neutral and would help families where both parents are freelancers with equal caring roles.

On non-disclosure agreements, the Government did not support the recommendation to prohibit the use of non-disclosure and other forms of confidentiality agreements in cases involving sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct, bullying or harassment, and discrimination.

In its response it stated that, “the Government is clear that everyone should be able to work in the music industry without being subject to misogyny and discrimination” but has offered nothing that would help to keep women working in the industry safe.

The MU are deeply disappointed and shocked that the Committee’s recommendations have been rejected in this way

Naomi Pohl, MU General Secretary says: 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.

“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. The Government had an opportunity to listen and learn from those lived experiences and implement the changes that the WESC 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. It’s particularly disappointing not to see the Government implement protection from third party harassment, despite the overwhelming evidence that this is a real issue for our industry and the overwhelming support for the changes the Government has once again ignored the voices of women.

“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.

“The MU is the trade union for women musicians, and we’ll continue to lobby the Government and work with the industry to do all we can to ensure that workplaces are safe and supportive environments for women, and all musicians.

“We urge the Government to rethink its position and implement the recommendations from the report.”

Read the Government's full response.

If you’ve experienced harassment in the music industry, remember you can report it to Safe Space

The MU's Safe Space scheme provides an opportunity for musicians to share instances of sexism, sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the music industry.

You can report your own experiences or cases that you have witnessed, using our anonymous online reporting tool. Alternatively, email or contact your Regional Office for advice and assistance. All calls and emails are treated in the strictest confidence and no action will be taken on your behalf without your prior consent.

Visit Safe Space

Representing and advocating on behalf of women in music

The MU has a democratic structure and a community of over 34,000 members. We use this power to advocate for women and build a better music industry.


Advocating through Women Member Network

Our Women Member Network is a dedicated space where women from across the country can connect, network and make positive change across the MU and the music industry. The Network ensures that the voices of women are heard, and that opportunities for activism and leadership are created.

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