Why Aren’t There More Women in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame?

As a noted stan of both Missy Elliott (read:”Missy Elliott Is the BFF Everyone Needs“) and Mariah Carey (read: “3 Very Important Reasons Mariah Carey Made Headlines This Week“), I was thrilled to see headlines across the Internet sharing that both artists are nominated for the 2019 Songwriters Hall of Fame. As many publications have already pointed out, Missy Elliott is the first-ever female rapper to be nominated, and if inducted, she will become the third rapper of all time to be recognized with the honour. Mariah Carey penned the most important Christmas song of all time—and that’s pretty much why her nomination is worth noting.

Chrissie Hynde, founding member of the rock band the Pretenders, and Annie Lennox, nominated as 1/2 of The Eurythmics, are the other two women joining Missy Elliott and Mariah Carey as performing nominees, with Vince Gill, Mike Love, Jimmy Cliff, Jeff Lynne, Cat Stevens, John Prine, Lloyd Price and Tommy James rounding out the list. Aside from Carey and Elliott, I don’t really know any of these names. Which got me thinking…what exactly is the Songwriters Hall of Fame? And who exactly gets to be recognized with the arbitrary oh-so-prestigious award? Thankfully, the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame has a very fancy website.

I learned that songwriters are eligible for induction after writing hit songs for at least 20 years. And I also learned that historically, dudes have dominated this website. There’s no information online that breaks down the Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees by gender, but as I started scrolling through this long list, I had a hard time finding any females. So I opened up my Excel Spreadsheet, Googled a bunch of the gender ambiguous names and started adding up the numbers. There are 865 people in the songwriters hall of fame in total, and over the past decade, 88 have been added. Of these 88, only 6 were women: Loretta Lynn (2008), Laura Nyro (2010), Jackie DeShannon (2010), Holly Knight (2013), Cyndi Lauper (2015) and Linda Perry (2015). And since I was just starting to get a hand on how a spreadsheet works, I opted to take my calculations one step further: over the past 10 years, only 5.28% of Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees were women. Isn’t math fun?

And so I’ll leave you with this: my two part campaign for the induction of Missy Elliott and Mariah Carey into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. I’m not a professional, but I can’t imagine what else you might need.

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