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MU’s Response to ‘Misogyny in Music’ Inquiry Published

In July we submitted a response to the HoC Women and Equalities Committee 'Misogyny in Music' Inquiry. Our submission has now been accepted and published online, here we outline some key highlights.

Published: 25 October 2022 | 3:44 PM Updated: 27 October 2022 | 4:21 PM
Young woman playing and singing on grand piano alone in concert hall during daytime.
Our response was informed by a snapshot survey of female and non-binary members that we conducted during June 2022. Image credit: Shutterstock.

The MU response to the House of Commons (HoC) Women and Equalities Committee 'Misogyny in Music' Inquiry detailed our members lived experiences of misogyny and sexism whilst working in the UK music industry, and was informed by a snapshot survey of female and non-binary members that we conducted during June 2022.

Our response covered key themes of:

  • Intersectionality
  • Lack of representation of women
  • The sexualisation of female musicians
  • Misogynistic and sexist assumptions
  • Bullying and sexual harassment
  • Lack of facilities for women

Legislative change

We also made the following recommendations to the music industry and Government to tackle the issues the submission raised.

  • Introducing the preventative duty in the next parliamentary session.
  • Extend the protections relating to discrimination and harassment in the Equality Act 2010 to all freelancers so that they are entitled to the same protections as the wide range of individuals in the workplace who are already protected.
  • Reinstate section 40 of the Equality Act 2010 without the three strikes rule to protect all workers from third party harassment
  • Review the limit of two characteristics within Section 14 of the Equality Act 2010, so the law acknowledges that overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination impacts on people who experience sexual harassment.
  • Extend limitation periods for discrimination and sexual harassment claims to at least six months
  • Legislate to make NDAs unenforceable for anything other than their original purpose, the prevention of sharing confidential business information and trade secrets
  • Introduce mandatory ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting and widen gender pay gap reporting for companies with over 50 employees
  • Supply funding to develop mental health services equipped to deliver culturally appropriate and accessible care.

Industry recommendations

  • Implement robust policies and procedures for combatting misogyny, sexual harassment, and discrimination.
  • Provide equality, diversity, and inclusion training with specific training on sexual harassment for all workers.
  • Invest in active bystander training.
  • Provide multiple, clear, and accessible reporting mechanisms, including anonymous methods so all workers can raise a complaint safely.
  • Work towards equal representation of women in decision making positions and senior leadership roles.
  • Conduct sexual harassment risk assessments and create action plans to reduce risks.
  • Support the creation of the Independent Standards Authority.

Improving awareness and education

  • Consider how misogyny as gender stereotyping impacts students' instrument and subject choice and take steps to tackle this.
  • Implement equality, diversity and inclusion and acceptable behaviour modules as core parts of the curriculum in colleges, universities, and conservatories.
  • Consistent and regular discussions with students regarding misogyny, sexism, and gender equality.

The MU will continue to work towards creating a music industry that is free from discrimination

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl says:

“It may be tempting to think of the quotes and anecdotal data used throughout the MU’s submission as extremes or exceptions. However, this is far from the case. In fact, they represent only a small fraction of the many stories the MU hears of misogyny, sexism and abuse in the music industry directed at women.

“Whilst misogyny, sexism and abuse are not unique to the music industry, there are some factors to consider that make these behaviours more likely and much harder to tackle in music. For example, freelance working that relies on networks for opportunities, a dominance of men in decision making roles, informal working environments and a power imbalance in relationships.

“The MU will continue to work towards creating a music industry that is free from discrimination, bullying and harassment and hopes that our submission to the inquiry contributes to tackling the issues it raises.”

Have you experienced sexual harassment at work?

The MU's Safe Space Scheme provides a safe space for musicians to share instances of sexism, sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the music industry.

You can 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 the dedicated Safe Space page for information, resources and more

Representing and advocating on behalf of women in music

At the MU we advocate on behalf of women musicians to ensure their rights are upheld and strengthened – where they encounter discrimination, we’ll challenge it.

Learn more about what we do for women in music.

Join our Women Member Network

Our 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.

Join the Women Member Network

Representing and advocating on behalf of women in music

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