If you thought women were a rarity on the dancefloors of the UK, you might be surprised to find out that, while the UK is home to the most women DJs in the world, there are not any women of colour on the national scene.
In fact, only one woman of colour, a DJ from Bristol named Jess Poulter, is a member of any major UK club, and only two women of color have ever been signed to major labels.
This fact, coupled with the fact that the UK has a high rate of female unemployment, has made it particularly difficult for female DJs to find work in the country.
In 2017, it was reported that women DJ’ing at a London club had to be escorted off the premises when they tried to enter a nightclub by security staff.
Although this incident was caught on CCTV, it didn’t make the news.
It’s no surprise, then, that the country has the highest female DJ unemployment rate in the developed world.
But how do we address this situation?
For one thing, there’s the issue of sexism within the music industry.
In a 2016 article by the New York Times, the then-CEO of the BBC, Danny Cohen, explained that it was important for women to take part in dancefloor competitions in order to get a leg up in terms of job opportunities.
It was also reported that he had to pay lip service to the idea of gender parity, despite the fact he had only one female DJ in his entourage at the time.
He went on to admit that there were “a lot of barriers that are still around”.
In other words, he’s not really all that interested in changing the world.
A lack of opportunity, sexism, and cultural conditioning all have a significant impact on female DJs’ chances of success.
This is why the UK government recently announced the creation of a new organisation called the UK Dancehall Association (UKDA) to improve the conditions for female musicians, to help create a more equitable and inclusive music industry in the future.
Although the UKDA is still in its early days, its founder, Emma Lee, told the BBC that it has already seen positive results.
“We have heard from a lot of female DJs who have been approached to join the UK dancehall association.
And, more than half of the women DJs I know have had a positive experience, in the sense that they felt that the work they are doing was valued and respected,” she said.
The UKDA, she added, “is already making a big difference to women’s music in the United Kingdom, and we are determined to continue working to make that happen”.
It’s clear that there’s an enormous amount of work to be done in the field of music education, and the UK can do much more to support women and minority artists in their pursuit of a better future.