unconscious bias gender inequality in the EDM World

In the FuseTV short film Alison Wonderland, Paul Oakenfold, Nicole Moudaber, Dash Berlin, Dada Life, Yellow Claw, Don Diablo and more sound off on the lack of ladies at festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival. Moreover, LA Weekly recently touched on the gender diversity issue Women DJs Are Out There — Clubs and Festivals Just Need to Book Them with a more LA regionalized club spin.

I don’t believe there’s deliberate prejudice towards female DJ/Producers but rather a clear case of unconscious bias. The unconscious bias is women are less technical or technically disinterested or not nerdy enough as their male counter parts. Hence men must be better DJs because they are more nerdy and technical.

This is just not the case. In Malcolm Gladwell’s best selling Blink he articulates the same unconscious bias occurred in the classical music world. Prior to the 1980s, auditions for top orchestras were open that is, the auditioning committee watched one musician after another come in and play in front of the judges. Under this audition system, the overwhelming number of musicians hired by top orchestras were men but no one thought much of this. It was assumed that men were better musicians. After all, what could be fairer than an open audition? And weren’t the members of audition committees, “experts” in their field, capable of discerning good musicians from bad musicians?

Orchestras in the 1980s started putting up screens in audition rooms (blind auditions), so that the committee could no longer see the person auditioning. Immediately orchestras started hiring women left and right. In fact, since the advent of screens, women have won the majority of auditions for top orchestras, meaning that now, if anything, the auditioning process supports the conclusion that women are better classical musicians than men.

Another unrelated example of unconscious bias occurs in recruiting CEO’s.  If you survey the Fortune 500 CEOs, with very few exceptions, they are almost all tall (over 6′ 2″). Are CEOs chosen whimsically? Not at all. Committees spend weeks and months in deliberation. But at the end of the day they still end up overwhelmingly picking tall men.

In closing, It all comes down to the selection process of the booking agents. It would be interesting if local club promoters and music festival booking agents put up screens and were only given artist tracks to assess without knowing the DJs/Producers name or gender.

Just listen to the music and then make a decision based on talent.


Written by FestPop Founder Scotty Moore

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