Recording Academy President Reacts to #GrammysSoMale: Women Need to Step Up

Neil Portnow commented on the emerging debate over this year's ceremony and the lack of female nominees and winners

By Samantha Schnurr Jan 29, 2018 2:40 PMTags

While some of the biggest stars of the year were recognized at the 2018 Grammys, there was a noticeable lack of female winners at this year's ceremony. 

The shortage of female representation was clear even before the award show began as many of the categories were dominated by male nominees, including "Album of the Year," which had four male contenders and one female—Lorde—in the running.

As the night concluded, viewers took notice as only one solo female nominee, "Best New Artist" winner Alessia Cara, ultimately accepted a gold statue during the broadcast for one of the top categories. #GrammysSoMale began to trend with fans and observers taking sides on the debate. 

When asked about the hashtag, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow told Variety, "It has to begin with…women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level…[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome."

As he continued, "I don't have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it's upon us—us as an industry—to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists."

2018 Grammys: Stars React to Their Nominations

Meanwhile, the debate has only continued online, with some fans acknowledging the lack of representation while others argue the best artists this year happened to be men. 

"Why are people getting upset over this hashtag? IT'S THE TRUTH. The shocking ratio between males and females winning in award shows has happened countless times," one observer tweeted. "This isn't something that people just made up!"

"It's not that men's music wasn't good enough to be awarded, it's that women are making great music as well yet only 9% of the nominees in the last 5 years have been women," another commented. 

"It's always a hard thing to see things not go somebody's way," "Best Country Album" Grammy winner Chris Stapleton told Variety. "And equality is something we have to address on a lot of levels. I can't really speak to how voters voted and what happened there, but there is a lot of great music being made by a lot of great women. That is the only thing I know and the awards don't diminsh the art in any way."