Women In Country Spotlight: A Snapshot of “Share the Air” Research Study and Country Music

Women on the radio

Dr. Jada Watson, in collaboration with Eugénie Tessier, in partnership with National Arts Centre and Women in Music Canada, shared the results of Share the Air: A Study of Networks and Genres through Data during Canadian Music Week 2024.

The live sharing of results sparked questions and conversation around systemic barriers preventing women and gender-diverse artists. 

This comes with gender representation in popular music becoming a predominant topic of conversation – gender parity on festival stages, the absence of women in audio engineering and production roles, and of course, the glaring lack of women in radio.

“Songs by women averaged 12.8% of the airplay amongst the top 150 songs played each year between 2013 and 2023.”

Research Snapshot: Country Music In Canada

Country music was among the six radio formats studied, with a weekly analysis of mediabase reports over the course of 2023.

In addition, this study looked into airplay averages over the last decade (2013 – 2023). Results show across all six formats that women are consistently underprogrammed, with rock, alternative rock, and country showing the lowest numbers (Executive Summary, p.9). 

Results: Country Music In Canada

“Songs by women averaged 12.8% of the airplay amongst the top 150 songs played each year between 2013 and 2023,” (Executive Summary, p.10).

“Only 2 songs by women per hour on Canadian country radio.”

Women continue to be underprogrammed, receiving just 15.6% of airplay on Country radio . As for CanCon, 7.1% of songs programmed represented women. The ratio of spins for songs by men to women was 5:1 (Executive Summary, p.10).

(Women are represented in purple)
“Women’s voices are lost through the programming pipeline.”

Songs by women receive almost equal distribution across current singles and gold records, but much lower in terms of recurrent programming (p.11).

(Women are represented in purple)

Canadian women are filtered out of high-rotation playlist slots, contributing to the low amount of songs reaching top positions (p.11).

With songs by women increasing in terms of representation over the last ten years, songs were still not among the top played each year, resulting in underrepresentation in the charts.

It’s important to note that among these small numbers in women represented on country radio (and other formats), breaking down by race results in even more inequity. Trans* artists are invisibilized in Canadian radio with complete absence until 2019 across the six formats.

What Has this Contributed To?

With low programming of women on country radio, there is a low number of gold singles by women, therefore filtering out of gold catalog programming.

The significant inequity in commercial radio programming also filters women out of top chart slots for current singles along with recurrent programming.

There is a significant impact of programming on artist career trajectories. Less songs entering the charts by women are limiting opportunities for festivals, tours, major awards like the JUNOs and CCMAs (p.25).


ALL information and images were extracted from the results of Share the Air: A Study of Networks and Genres Through Data: Executive Summary

The full study, executive summary, and study brief can all be accessed HERE.

Share The Air: Study of Networks and Genres Through Data is by Dr. Jada Watson in collaboration with Eugéine Tessier, and published in partnership with Women in Music Canada and the National Arts Centre. Artwork and designs were developed by Bronwin Parks of Feisty Creative.

Jenna Weishar from Front Porch Music

Country music lover with an unhealthy collection of concert t-shirts. Always looking for up and coming artists. Believer in music's ability to soothe the soul. Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter.

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