Getty Images

This piece was updated on April 5 at 6:00 p.m.:

A previous version of this piece claimed that only one woman, Bebe Rexha, helped produce the songs in the Top 40 from the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated April 9. Since then, a representation for one of the producers we credited (Michael Keenan) reached out to let us know that he was the sole producer of G-Eazy's "Me Myself & I."  We reached out to Bebe Rexha for comment, but she has not yet responded.


It took 80 people to produce Billboard's Top 40 songs in the country this month. Not a single one of them was a woman.

The chart that we originally ran with this piece, showing that one woman ("Bebe Rexha") had helped produce one song in last week's Top 40, was incorrect. No women helped produce any songs in last week's Top 40. The entire Top 40, every single song, was produced by men.

Imagine now that instead of this chart there is just a giant 0.

Not a single song in this week's Top 40 was produced by an all-woman team, but 100% of them were produced by all-male teams or individual men.


(the rest of this piece continues as it was originally published on March 31)

This startling imbalance is not unique to March 2016. In our analysis of last month's Top 40, we found that only 4% of the producers were women. That was consistent with our data for the Top 40 for 2015 as a whole: Only 3.8% of Top 40 producers were women last year.


But why? Why are women so woefully underrepresented in production credits? This is probably partly because production is a more "technical" field (and women are poorly represented in "technical" fields in general). But then again, women are underrepresented in writing and performing, too.

Here's the data for credited performers in the Top 40:


Even though Rihanna and Drake’s “Work” is sitting at the top of the charts, only 32.5% of this week's Top 40 songs include a female performer as a main or featured artist. More than two-thirds (67.5%) of these songs were performed exclusively by men. Compare that to the 15% of songs performed exclusively by women, and the gender disparity in American popular music becomes so stark it's impossible to deny.

Women performing as individuals accounted for only six songs in this month's Top 40. Justin Bieber, meanwhile, personally accounted for three.


I wish that this surprised me. It should be surprising, right? The biggest names in music are women: Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj. But after almost a year of doing Top 40 analysis just like this, my expectations have gotten so low that I'd never count on seeing 30% of popular songs performed by female artists. This month, we didn't even get halfway there.

For all of 2015, women only made up 25.8% of the 178 performances that hit the Top 40. That number somehow manages to remain under 30% representation no matter how many songs come and go on the Billboard charts.


Women are even more poorly represented as writers:


Only 13 of the 149 writers it took to make the 40 most popular songs in America were women. That’s 8.7%.

Twenty-three songs in this week's Top 40 were made completely without women: No female performers, writers, or producers were involved in their creation at all. That's 57.5% of the Top 40.


Zero songs in this week's Top 40 were created start to finish by a full-woman team. Not one.

These statistics are unacceptable. Women make up half of the world we live in, yet such a small share of Top 40 creators. Something needs to change, and it needs to change now.


Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter