There’s no doubt that there is a long list of female country singers who have made their professional marks in the hallowed halls of some of Nashville’s most famous venues – legends like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and modern chart-toppers Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.
But country music also has a darker side, where sexism is not only tolerated, but even celebrated, as noted lyrically in some popular songs over the decades. Country music marketer and radio consultant Keith Hill even infamously admitted that the industry was sexist only days after infuriating many of country music’s hottest female stars with his 2015 interview with the magazine Country Aircheck.
Hill stated that country music needed to “take females out” and that he “play[s] great female records and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
The atmosphere of a boy’s club is pervasive
If that kind of sexism is practiced and discussed so blatantly at the top of the Nashville scene’s food chain, it can only be much worse for those women trying to earn an honest living in the background of the music culture. Female record producers, videographers, agents and directors all can experience – to varying degrees – discrimination based on sex and/or gender.
Every facet of the country music industry is essentially controlled by men, a trend that’s replicated throughout the genres of all music industries. It can be quite intimidating for an entry-level administrative assistant barely making more than minimum wage for a Nashville record label to successfully challenge the ongoing sexual harassment tha t she endures on a daily basis from her manager.
Incidents like that are common and can derail promising careers. Some women prefer to quit and walk away from the harassment rather than file formal complaints of discrimination or harassment. However, it’s possible to become a force for industry-wide changes to be implemented by taking on the powers-that-be in Nashville’s male-dominated music industry.
Get a professional evaluation of your situation
If you are a woman working in the industry and being discriminated against because of your gender, you can take legal action and fight back. Talk with a Nashville attorney who handles employment discrimination cases and learn your rights in the matter.