GENDER INEQUALITY AT THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME
Updated: Nov 8
Every year artists are admitted to the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In this article, you will learn about women in music and the equality-empowerment factor of one of the most important American music institutions in 2020.
The legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to the memory of the most famous and immensely influential artists in the music industry. Focused especially on rock music, the exhibition is located in the city of Cleveland, Ohio. Each year, small groups of carefully selected, distinguished artists are added to the line-up of the Hall of Fame.
The institution's main objective is to consider and select eligible candidates among a list of artists celebrating the 25th anniversary of their musical career, ignited by their first commercial release.
The women make up less than 11% of the inductees.
The nominees are chosen through a survey listing over 1,000 musicians, writers, historians, and industry members (think record company delegates, etc.). The first selection of 1000 artists is made taking into account the work of the individual’s entire career, innovation, skill, and cultural influence. More specifically, the “performers” category is meant for recording artists and bands with influence and significance to the development and perception of rock and roll. In the 34 years that this ceremony has taken place, of the 227 performing artists who have already been inducted, only 26 are female soloists or in female-representing bands, and 8 are mixed-gender bands. In total, women make up less than 11% of the inductees.
Artists such as Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks, and Janet Jackson (all among previously inducted), have expressed their discontent with the lack of women in the hall of fame during the ceremony. In response to that, Rock Hall Foundation CEO Joel Peresman stated: "We're trying to make this as gender-neutral as possible and just look at as: the criteria of being inducted is quality of work,". "And if it's male or female ... that's the criteria." We really don't think that was a smart or well-thought-through answer.
While decades of male-dominated history of the music industry cannot be undone, the foundation should recognize its social responsibility to pay attention to the underrepresented and misfortunate artists that were snubbed by a previously misogynistic industry.
The first woman to be inducted into the hall of fame was Aretha Franklin in 1987.
This year, the singer Whitney Houston was chosen as the only woman among eight artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2020.
So, with these numbers, how can the music industry explain inequality?
List of the female members and mixed bands induced of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:
Aretha Franklin 1987
The Supremes 1988
Ike & Tina Turner 1991
LaVern Baker 1991
Ruth Brown 1993
Sly and the Family Stone 1993
Etta James 1993
Janis Joplin 1995
Martha and the Vandellas 1995
Gladys Night and the Pips 1996
The Shirelles 1996
Joni Mitchell 1997
Fleetwood Mac 1998
Dusty Springfield 1999
The Mamas and the Papas 1998
Bonnie Ratt 2000
Brenda Lee 2002
The Roonets 2007
Patti Smith 2007
Darlene Love 2011
Laura Nyro 2012
Donna Summer 2013
Linda Ronstadt 2014
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts 2015
Joan Baez 2017
Nina Simone 2018
Janet Jackson 2019
Stevie Nicks 2019
Whitney Houston 2020
The next Induction Ceremony will be held at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio on May 2, 2020.
UPDATE March 24th, 2020: HBO has announced the 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Saturday, November 7, at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland.
“We are very disappointed to announce the postponement of this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony,” Rock & Roll Hall of Fame President Joel Peresman said at the time. “Our first concern is to the health and safety of our attendees and artists and we are complying to the direction of the local and state authorities and common sense.”