Part 2 – Women and Girls in Music Production


This is part 2 of a 2-part series on the topic of music production education in schools.

This is part 2 of a two-part series on the topic of music production education in schools. In part 1, we explored the rationale and recommendations for bringing music production education into schools. In this article, we examine the under-representation of women in music production and provide recommendations from female trail-blazers in the music industry.

The world of music production has always been, and continues to be, the ultimate boys’ club. In fact, according to a 2021 study by Stacy Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Institute, women make up only 2.6% of music producers. As a result, being in an audio class or in the recording studio can be a lonely and intimidating experience for women. At Writers Room U, we are committed to gender equality in all facets of music creation, so we found five women at various stages of their music industry careers. We asked them what advice they have for girls and young women who aspire to produce music. Here they are and what they had to say:

Barriers for women exist in the music industry, just as they exist in other fields. Leslie Richter shared that “people hire who they know – and in music production especially, men tend to know men; in fact, they may not even know a woman producer.” Richter also shared that when a female producer is in the room, “there is often an assumption that she is someone’s girlfriend.” Alex Kline commented that “female producers are more likely to be brought in to produce for female artists” and that producing for male artist is a bigger barrier to overcome. Additionally, Kline shared that “music is sometimes written in places where it is harder for a woman to work with men, like in a hotel room or on a tour bus.”

Other barriers present themselves closer to home. Jill O’Shea shared, “It’s a tough gig. It often requires late hours at the studio and a lot of time away from home. It’s a lot of sacrifice.” Similarly, Kline shared that working long hours in a windowless studio isn’t for everyone and that that can deter some people, especially women with families. Jo Mackenzie worries that when girls see only male producers, they get the subconscious message that “that’s who’s meant for the role” and that women may subsequently opt themselves out. Relatedly, women don’t always receive family encouragement early on. Beverly Keel shared that women are often steered into the public relations and marketing aspects of the industry. O’Shea noted that “It took a lot of convincing to get my parents on board with the idea of going into audio engineering as a profession.” Richter (whose own parents were supportive of her career choice) heard from a female student that her parents didn’t want her going into a man’s career. “That flabbergasted me,” stated Richter, “and lit a fire under me that if I can do nothing else in this world, I can represent.”


Despite the gender barriers, all five of our interviewees are motivated and enthusiastic advocates and role models for women. Three overarching recommendations emerged from the five interviews. Namely, women should 1) take initiative to further their own learning, 2) find and access support systems for women in music, and 3) network diligently.

Take Initiative to Learn:

Connect with Formal & Informal Support Systems:

Network Strategically:

In Closing:

As in all aspects of society and forms of media, diversity is important. O’Shea asks, “If there are only male producers telling the stories of female artists, then are we getting the true creative vision there?” The good news is that awareness has grown. After decades in the industry, Richter is seeing some steps in the right direction. Several organizations for women in audio have emerged over the last decade (we have curated a list here) which offer an array of supports and opportunities. Women themselves play a role too: Let your work ethic and attitude speak for itself, know the challenges up front and be deliberate in pursuing your dreams. As O’Shea so aptly sums it up, “Women deserve to feel like they have an important place in the world, in ALL areas of life – and that includes music production.”

Dr. Kelley King, retired school principal, and Emily Falvey, Nashville-based songwriter, run Writers Room U, an organization which brings the music industry into K-12 classrooms across the country. With its deep industry connections, Writers Room U recruits top music creators to teach students about all aspects of the music industry, including music production. For more information about bringing these experiences to your school, go to

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