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Photo of Piper Kaplan, Pearl Harbor.

Piper Kaplan, Pearl Harbor.

Yeah, I think that the 60s-90s provided us with female Superstars in all genres, I.e. Diana Ross, Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Madonna.. female figureheads in music used to exist. You don't really see that anymore, because the world is moving too fast for anyone to really latch onto anybody.

Photo of Sofia Talvik

Sofia Talvik

"82% of the people that use social media daily are women.. use it to your advantage. Connect with your fellow female musicians and help support each other. Social media is also more and more becoming the most important platform to connect with your listeners. Don't sit around and wait. You have to work hard in the world of music. Record your songs, get them out there. Start your own label. Go out play!!"

Photo of Frankie Rose, Frankie Rose and the Outs

Frankie Rose, Frankie Rose and the Outs

hmmm... I feel like its alot easier for young ladies to get into playing music. Now there are programs like "rock camp for girls" We did not have that when i was a kid. I think my mother still cant grasp that I play in a rock band for a living!

Photo of Marianne Dissard

Marianne Dissard

No. It's not getting any easier. I used to direct films. It's the same there. I could say it's even worse in France, where I come from. Italy seems maddeningly worse too. Unless you're cute, young, blonde and smile a lot, you will not get any media exposure in Italy. I've seen the differences across countries, many not so between generations.

Jen O'Connor, Sgt. Dunbar & the Hobo Banned, We are Jeneric

"Just looking at some of my favorite female musicians: Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Emmy Lou Harris, Rita Lee, Kim Deal (from the Pixies), I can see that there's a huge difference.

All of these women certainly have spitfire in them, but just compare Billie Holiday to Kim Deal (at least from a performance standpoint) and Billie seems rather poised, whereas Kim is totally wild. I think that through the generations it's become increasingly acceptable for women to show that spitfire to the outside world. Either way though -it's there and has always been a source of great strength for me."

Photo of Lily Chapin, The Chapin Sisters

Lily Chapin, The Chapin Sisters

I have a lot of respect for the women from previous generations. I think a lot of the things they were dealing with are still true, but those women had to bring it every time. And the men too. The previous generations didn't have the technology available now, so the good singers and players floated to the top much more quickly than today. That's not to say that the new music revolution isn't great. Music is something for everyone to share. That being said, Nina Simone, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynne were great live first. Then, the next generation, Bonnie Raitt, Melissa Ethridge, Blondie, these girls had a lot to prove, and they all did prove it in different ways. Now its up to us to keep pushing the bar higher, and keep breaking through the old boys club. There has always been a place in music for women. Certain genres are easier for women than others. It would be harder for us if we were trying to play hard rock or metal.

Photo of Zoe Keating

Zoe Keating

"Yes. Women in their 20's seem just as aware of the gender differences as those of us in our 30's... but rather than be superwoman in order to conform to a male environment, they seem more comfortable with themselves. They seem to embrace the differences and expect everyone to just deal.

I notice this the most with women musicians having kids. With other women in my age group, we've had conversations about how we can have a career, or children, not both. Or, you do them sequentially...career first, children later (if you can and haven't waited too long) then back to the career. Maybe its because I went to Sarah Lawrence College....but among my peers, having kids is sometimes looked down upon, like ""you're throwing away everything the feminists did for you!!"". I struggled with this myself, deciding my career was more important and if I never had kids, so be it. Music being such an unstable profession it wasn't until very recently that I felt professionally established and financially secure enough to have a baby...I'm about to have my 1st child in May. I don't think musicians are the only ones who experience this feeling.

I contrast this with some women I've observed who are 10 or 15 years younger than me. They don't see having a baby and having a career as incompatible. They're just doing it, and demanding that the mostly male working environment change to accommodate them. Its exciting. Its the culmination of feminism I think."

Photo of Zahira Gutierrez, Wild Moccasins

Zahira Gutierrez, Wild Moccasins

I think more and more women are becoming a big role in the music society. I see a lot more women musicians on the cover of magazines and taking over the rock music scene than before.

Photo of Sue Lott, Luder

Sue Lott, Luder

We are all on equal footing. Nobody fights for a greater percentage of the credit. We all have something to bring to every song. There is no 'head songwriter'. Additionally, we have very talented and experienced friends in the studio side of the business and had a fantastic experience recording Luder's debut release, Sonoluminescence. Small Stone Records does a lot of marketing for our release, as any label should, but we get a lot of support from my business partner and significant other in the realm of marketing, in our web presence, in the ever-increasingly important use of social media. We also have a decent fan base from our old bands who have come to follow our latest endeavor closely. There’s a lot of history here.

Photo of Sandra Velasquez, Pistolera

Sandra Velasquez, Pistolera

There are as many differences between generations of women musicians as there are in other areas. 20 years ago, there weren't that many female drummers. Now there are more.

Photo of Reyna Kay, Blessure Grave

Reyna Kay, Blessure Grave

Yes, I think women earlier paved the way for someone like me in their late 20's to be able to say to myself, "Heck ya I can do this!", it didn't matter if I hadn't ever sung or picked up an instrument in years, I felt comfortable stepping into this new role.

Photo of Blair Gimma, Blair

Blair Gimma, Blair

But, bands like The Kills, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleater Kinney, and Rilo Kiley have made my journey easier because they refuse to be simplified down into one cliched expected emotion of a female human being. Fans and press treat them like artists, not female artists. All artists want, male and female, is to be perceived as artists, not cartoons.

Photo of Julie Feeney

Julie Feeney


Madame Scorpio, Scorpio Rising

Photo of Beth Tacular, Bowerbirds

Beth Tacular, Bowerbirds

"It's a hell of a lot easier now to be a female musician in the rock world than it must have been 30, 20 or even ten years ago. I feel really lucky that all those women paved the way for me, and that all the other feminists through the years have worked to change the way people see women in general.

Women have more power now, and more of us have grown up with mothers and other female role models who were creative and who didn't allow themselves to be dominated by the men in their lives. "

Amy Rude and Heartbeast

"Essentially, yes. I think that still people have certain assumptions they make about female musicians. For instance, I'm often referred to as a ""singer-songwriter"" when my male peers aren't usually called that. It doesn't bother me as I think of myself as a singer and a songwriter. However, over time that moniker has evoked a sort of tameness and emotionality I don't think I fit. I think that women might collaborate differently than men (sometimes) and I think that women have a different approach to their influences than men (sometimes). Lately I've been thinking a lot about how women age with their music. The recent film ""Crazy Heart"" and other retrospectives of aging male musicians popularize and romanticize the aging male musician. But if you look closer you can find women that never quit either--Elizabeth Cotten, Rosetta Tharpe, Odetta. Most of these artists had a very close spiritual connection with their music that did not rely on fame or sex appeal. I think that as I age, I want the same pure approach to the music. Growing up in the 1980s my models were Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Sheena Easton, Heart--these women exuded a kind of strength that I'm not sure I quite see in the made for teen cyclone of music these days. I know I was influenced by Cyndi Lauper early on and I wanted to be distinctive and creative like her. I didn't see her as a sexy kitten and I liked that. I liked that she hung around with wrestlers. "
"As I described before, I think women musicians from the 1960s and prior were from a folk tradition. Therefore they were really making music because it was passed down, it was the fabric of their community and it was second nature to the rest of their lives--being mothers, teachers, civil rights activists, servants, etc. Today women (or at least my generation and in my circle) have even more opportunity--to have careers that matter, to make careers in art AND to be mothers. I think that there's a feeling among my female musician friends that if you become a mom it's like, ""well, that music thing is over I guess."" I really respect women, say just slightly older than me, like Kristen Hersh, who did it anyway. She takes her kids on tour and her husband is her tour manager. I really respect that. "
"I have received great advice from many women and men over the years. The best advice I ever received was from an artist who told me to take as long as I need to make the stage my home before I perform. That pause that I now make before playing has made all the difference for me in the world! My advice to anyone just starting out is: Learn an instrument or if you sing, really learn about singing. Learn how to dance. Collect records. Music doesn't have to be a geeky science. Always serve the song. You don't have to recite numbers and notes and memorize everything. You can be shy, bold, expert, novice or naive--just play! Music should be still a social tool. It's silly to have that reserved just for the ""Industry."" The Industry is just a collection of people who care about art. If you're ambitious--that's great. However art is also about longevity and a certain aesthetic form. Learn about who came before you."

Photo of Laura Ballance, Superchunk

Laura Ballance, Superchunk

Yes. My friend Jennifer Barwick, who played in a band called Erectus Monotone around the same time that Superchunk started, and I were talking about this recently. Back in the late 80's early 90's we would walk into the club with the other people in the band and it was assumed by the people who worked there that we were either "just the girlfriends" or "groupies" and some comment would be made at some point that alerted us to that. Also any technical opinions we might have had were sometimes dismissed by people who did not know us. I think it is a lot better these days, it seems like it is far less unusual for there to be women in punk rock bands and bands in general now. When I tell people I am in a band now, I still do occasionally get immediately asked if i am the singer. People assume that if you are a woman, you are going to be that one.
mmm, not that i can generalize.

Photo of Carolyn Wonderland

Carolyn Wonderland

nothing that a little ripening won't change.

Photo of Martha Johnson, Martha and the Muffins

Martha Johnson, Martha and the Muffins

"Young female musicians I have met are perhaps a bit more independent. Generally speaking, I think not much has changed as the women who were the pioneers were as strong and determined as women in bands today.

There are more manufactured female 'stars' now selling things such as brands and sex than in the 1960's to 1990's. "

Photo of Olivia Broadfield

Olivia Broadfield

The whole Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez era was about the craft...I'm hard pushed now to find big stars of today that are about the craft of songwriting. It's about the art of performance now and celebrity. I don't think either is more wrong or right but there is a definite change over the past 40 years.

Photo of Madi Diaz

Madi Diaz

"oh surely! i'm forever greatful to the women who spearheaded the women's rights movement to lead our gender to a place where i could feel that it is entirely possible to succeed on every level in my career. back then it just wasn't done. not really even thought of. women put on aprons and waited for their bread winners to come home and eat their dinners and watch their evening programs. there were fewer women leaving the homestead to go out and do things for themselves. being the minority always means you have to work harder than everyone else in order to open the door a little wider for everyone waiting behind you. that is surely the gift that those women gave to the generations that followed and that will continue to follow."

Sara Bell, Regina Hexaphone, Shark Quest

When I was younger, in the mid-eighties, the chasm was fairly vast, but it seems that it has closed up quite a bit over the years, though young women who play today do report some of the same kinds of challenges. The most obvious difference is that there continues to be a disproportionate number of men who play music compared to women. I think some of the differences that fall under an emotional category can be attributed to gendered socialized behaviors--like being intimidated in music stores (where in lots of places men still treat you as if you are waiting for your boyfriend than as a customer, especially if you are young). I don't see it as often as I used to, but the music business, especially as you lean toward the harder end of the spectrum, has a very old-boy code of ethics and behaviors that are (or were) very sexist. This kind of thing causes women, especially if they are not incredibly confident to begin with, to retreat from asserting their opinions in the studio and in business environments where they should feel free to have an equal voice. HOWEVER, I must say that in my personal experience I had nothing but encouragement and support from the male musicians who befriended me and played in bands with me. This was in the post-punk underground music scene of Raleigh and Chapel Hill so it was a pretty progressive atmosphere to grow up in. I had a lot of confidence issues (or lack of) when I was younger that severely affected how much I asserted myself in the business world of music. That's not something you can attribute to women in general, of course, but it was certainly affected by growing up in the atmosphere of second wave feminism in America.
Absolutely. I love seeing young women songwriters and musicians today being tough and vulnerable in equal measure, being more emotionally honest and feminine and less likely to feel the need to adopt masculine postures to prove they can play on equal footing with the boys. There didn't seem to be so many choices in the eighties--you were either a super-feminine front person or an androgynous tough chick or a sensitive folkie. There are always exceptions of course, but it seems to me that everything exploded in the early '90s with Riot Grrls and Ani Di Franco and the Breeders and other popular and underground bands who came out of the 80s music scenes kind of shattering those old images and demanding more freedom for women playing now.

Photo of Christina Marrs, Asylum Street Spankers

Christina Marrs, Asylum Street Spankers

"I think the women musicians who came before my generation probably encountered a lot more sexism than my lot, or the young ladies just starting out today as musicians. The music business is obviously still very male dominated, and it must have taken a lot of guts and a very strong demeanor to go into this business 50 or 60 years ago. I was born in 1970, the era of women's liberation, and never had any reason to feel inferior to men in any way. I've always been truly shocked by the (albeit rare) instances of sexism that I've encountered in life, not just in the music business, but I can't even imagine what it must have been like for some of my predecessors. I started doing this professionally when I was 24, and now 40 is just a few weeks away for me. So I've been in the business for a ""generation"", and it's funny because I encounter a lot of young women who are about the age I was when I started, who look to me now as something of a role model. For me, things haven't changed all that much since we started out. Last summer I volunteered at Girls Rock Camp, a summer program for young women with musical aspirations, and this next generation of female musicians don't seem at all deterred by the music business being a male-dominated industry. They just want to rock out! "

Photo of Jackie Bristow

Jackie Bristow

I am noticing that the younger woman coming up in the business are more independent and have good management skills.. They are not relying on record labels and people to make it happen for them. I think this is mainly to do with the massive change in the music business. I think it is a very good thing and give you more control of your career.

Photo of Ruth Merenda, Mike & Ruthy

Ruth Merenda, Mike & Ruthy

"Yes! My mom had a band in the 80's called Rude Girls. They were fun, irreverent folkies who sang bawdy safe-sex ditties, real-life love songs, and the occasional role-reversal murder ballad. These days I don't think we have as much to prove.

In my ""all-girl band"" we don't really make a big deal about our gender and our freedom from oppression. I think we were raised as empowered women and we took that confidence and ran with it. Sometimes I think that translates as the confidence to be vulnerable. Together we create a comfort zone on stage where we can be pretty real. "

Kate Levitt, Teeth Mountain and the Dan Deacon Ensemble

Honestly, check this out:
So, it seams like every time a new genre starts woman are initially exculded from it and then slowly but surely creep their way into it. This can be seen clearly with punk and rap, and now it is happening more and more with noise and electronic music. I would like to think that currently woman are becoming more fearless with playing music--that is to say have less aprehension when playing rowdyier--dude like--music. Woman are playing more instruments these days while as in the past were relegated to vocals and the occasional guitar. However, this is not to say that we are equally accepted. I think women still have to be either super good or really really sexy to be accepted in any scene, where as there are a lot of dude bands which basically are terrible and get recognized.

Photo of Liz Burke

Liz Burke

I think the women in music now (not all) tend to use sex appeal, especially in Top 40 music.

Photo of Pilley Bianchi

Pilley Bianchi

Not really. Times don't really change, just our perception.

Kelly Crisp, The Rosebuds

We played a show with Ronnie Spector. We played a show with Superchunk. In both cases, the women are perceived as respectable and powerful, because they present themselves as powerful. However, the divide between generations couldn't have been more apparent in those two situations. Ronnie Spector was "handled" and treated as precious, fragile while off stage. She was very protected and maybe she's developed a need for that protection from her experiences (being married to Phil Spector couldn't have been easy!) whereas Laura Ballance from Superchunk... I don't know how to put this... she carries herself. I remember telling her when we first played shows together that I thought she was a positive role model for me because, though she is friendly and kind, she is firm, strong, and very direct. It was clear to me that these would be the tools of survival.

Mel Watson

I think women musicians of the past had a battle to be able to be a musician more so than women do now. But I can say, that when you have the burning desire inside, it doesn't matter, you just do it. I did.

Kristina Esfandiari aka Mountshout

honestly, not really. we have more available to us then we ever did before so maybe i should be able to see some difference.

Photo of Pamela Rose, Wild Women of Song

Pamela Rose, Wild Women of Song

"It's changed so much since the days I started out, when women were supposed to be 'chick singers' and cook dinner for the guys and clean up after rehearsals. (I kid you not). I used to feel that I had to sing powerful strong songs so as not to get pigeon holed as the 'ballad singer' (chick singer).

My last CD which was about the women jazz composers naturally featured a lot of great women players. I'm happy to report in that I can't close my eyes and say that there's a 'women' style of playing that's qualitatively unique or different than the men's style. We've come a long way, and I work with some pretty bad ass women musicians.

And of course, let's discuss the fact that to have a boyfriend or husband in this business, he better have a good healthy ego, able to handle that you are getting flirted with from stage or off stage. The male musician 'band wives' go to all the gigs, but the husbands don't, for sure. "

It used to be hard to find a really strong woman drummer, now there's scores of young women who are fantastic. and guitarists, too.

I think the men musicians have also become a lot more sensitive - on the band stand, and in terms of process. "

Photo of Elizabeth Cook

Elizabeth Cook

i think older women that are still surviving at it rely less on their sexuality. but they have more grace.

Sara Hickman

"Yes. When I started, it was me, a manager, a high falutin' attorney and the major label. I actually started my first record as an indie and licensed to Elektra, which was a big deal at the time (thus, I still owe the master). If you weren't on a label in the early 90's, no one wanted your product in their stores because it was all about distribution/sales/numbers. I fought to produce on my first major release, especially when the producer was in Hawaii working on another album simultaneously, and I was left in L.A. putting the record together. I questioned why he was getting paid the big bucks (and getting points) when the engineer and I were actually arranging/doing the work. As a result, I ended up with credit and the ability to produce, fully, the last three songs on that album.

I feel like young women today are more savvy about how the industry works, they are starting younger, getting in bands or doing their own solo thing, much more involved in the business aspects. They've watched and learned from us, whether they are aware of it or not, and it's cool to see them be musicians, not ""women"" musicians. I think that is all we've been asking all along...just label me a musician, who happens to be a woman.

Lastly, I enjoy singing about issues that are important to me, as a woman, that a man may or may not understand, and I think younger women are hip and confident to sing about those issues, too. The level of talent is astounding and flourishing at an unheard of rate. Women help one another, we network, we are a large sisterhood. That's been a big sigh of welcome relief for me, cuz like I said, in the beginning, I was one of a few women working/making it in the industry, and we were all doing our best to have singles/be on VH-1, The Tonight Show, do radio tours, whatever it took to stay at the top of a male oriented game."

Photo of Hatii Rose De Leon, Dazzle Ships

Hatii Rose De Leon, Dazzle Ships

I do see a difference in the generations of women musicians. I feel like women play a bigger role in music now, like music made only by a female is more accepted and thought upon in a higher sense. Also I'm seeing a lot more females playing more than the instrument of their voice which I think is awesome. I feel more empowered as a female when I see a beautiful woman who is not only talented vocally, but can shred on a guitar, or can play the drums like a mad man. It gives me butterflies. I really can't wait to see where we take things next.

Photo of Angie Hart, Frente

Angie Hart, Frente

"As above, I look towards women who are my age and older. I see many of them starting later in their lives and succeeding in creating a career. I see them continue to receive the respect they deserve, This is heartening for me. As far as differences, I guess we cease to viable pop fodder, which is of no consequence to me. I cannot speak for all women, but the longer I make music, the less I care about such things and the more I care about making just good music. I am involved in a mentoring program, so I get to enjoy working with young women at the beginning of their careers. It's inspiring to see how much more confident and self-aware they are, than I was at their age. It's also satisfying, being a part of something I wish I'd had when I was starting out."

Shannon Stephens

One huge difference I see is that SEX was not nearly the selling point it is today. The famous female singer/songwriters of the 50s, 60s and 70s did not stalk around half-dressed and half-crazed. I think back to Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Judy Collins, Joan Baez... Although they probably fought hard for their chance on the stage, once they got there they kept their clothes on. They weren't expected to be sex objects: they were expected to sing.

Tanya Horo, Sherlocks Daughter

"I don't really .... I see the same drive and passion with woman that i've always seen, read about throughout history. I guess now our voice can stand on it's own, of course thanks to the woman of the past."

Photo of Jessica Martins, Via Audio

Jessica Martins, Via Audio

I think that generally speaking, the path that popular women musicians have taken is not the best example of what women musicians like me are trying to achieve; the auto-tuned, sex-driven pop star icons shown in the media are a bad representation of what is actually sexy - being good at my instrument is the sexiest thing I can think to do on stage. It used to not always be about the things that surround the music - the image, the reaction - but, rather, the raw emotion and natural talent involved in making a classic song and performance. This is not to say there are not still women out there doing this effectively - they're just harder to find than the "icons" that are spoon-fed to us today.

Miranda Lee Richards

I see there not bring as much of a difference between the 60's and 70's generation of female musicians - I think there was much more of a divide between the 50's women singers and the ones of today. In the post World War II era, many women musicians were still playing second fiddle to the male counterparts, but after the 60's liberation movement, all that changed. Women of the 60's and 70's were just as bad-ass as their male peers, the first female rock stars were born, but they still faced the same issues around child rearing that have been a reality for every woman in the modern music business. As mentioned earlier, there is this touring and promotional schedule that can be in conflict with being domestic raising a family. Theoretically, you could release albums and not tour, but many labels up until this point wanted you to tour as that was one way for them to sell records. Now that the focus isn't as much on selling albums, all that is changing, so it becomes, "Don't go out unless there is a huge demand for what you are doing." Even then, is it really necessary to tour on every record? We could save a lot of greenhouse gas emissions and have a lot more babies in the process! The only reason to do anything is if you enjoy it - having children, performing or otherwise. No one is making anyone do anything anymore from where I stand, and music has gotten a lot more free, independent, and creative without the business micro managing everything. The result of more creative freedom is amazing - it's as though we're in the middle of a musical renaissance! Speaking of gender in relation to their creativity, women no longer need to prove that they are equal to men, they already are (in the western world at least). With feminism no longer being an issue, it's venture becomes simply about making great art. We have the generations before us to thank for that.

Stephanie Winters

Like I said I hardly encounter other woman on the road so it's hard to speak to this. I quit my touring gig a year ago and I am focusing now on playing solo. A solo career at 50 for an alternative cellist? Believe it or not, it seems to be working.

Rachel Ratner, Partman Parthorse and Butts

"Yes, I think in the past women musicians (and to a certain extent, this is still the case in popular music) female musicians were saddled with fitting certain images and were hyper sexualized

In the 90s the feminist movement seemed to changes a lot of this, but I think female artists still struggled to find their place in the music scene and a lot of music was consciously overly 'female' - dealing with female issues and trying to separate them from male artists.

Now there's more and more female lead or fronted bands that seem to be held at face value, as music, and the fact that there's women in the band is less important. At least, that's been my experience. That said, there's still a minority of females in bands. The majority of musicians I know are males."

Photo of Lou Hickey, Codeine Velvet Club

Lou Hickey, Codeine Velvet Club

"I think the 70's saw the start of a big change with punk, DIY, etc, and I think there has been a constant progression from this. Women are using music to voice their opinions and concerns, as well as making a career for themselves. I released my first two records myself. More and more women are doing this and learning more about the business. They are also becoming more business minded. More and more women have active roles in this industry. Not so much that it is perfectly even, but its an improvement.


Carrie Clark

"Absolutely. When I was on tour in the '90, everyone thought I was either the bass player or the tour manager. It wasn't common for a woman to be a guitar playing front person in a loud rock band that didn't advertise itself as a ""riot girl"" kind of thing. Also I felt like I had to be a tomboy to be taken seriously... but that's a longer story about perceptions of beauty and compentency.

Women seem more accepted as musicians, whatever instrument they choose. There are also more women sound engineers, which also helps a great deal in establishing a basis of acceptance when a woman walks into a club or studio to work."

Betty Rupp North Elementary

There's more female "rock" musicians now which is awesome. In the past all the way up to a decade or so ago there were less females in the scene, but the ones that we did have were amazingly talented, like Rosetta Tharpe. Most likely of course because they wouldn't have gotten any notoriety unless they were better than your average guy musician.

Photo of Lisa Shelley, Let's Pet

Lisa Shelley, Let's Pet

"I am not sure since I am stuck at age 33- in the middle now. I see more women playing istruments. I find it easier for myself to be in a band with others. When I was younger and wanted to play, I was often denied access by the guys in my social scene. They would tell me that I did not have stage presence. This was strange to me since I was an actress and vocal performer through out my school years. "

Photo of Kera Washington, Zili Misik

Kera Washington, Zili Misik

I look to those female musicians who have inspired me -- Sweet Honey in the Rock, Sarah Vaughan, Big Mama Thornton, Women of the Calabash, Marie Daulne of Zap Mama, Emeline Michel, Meshell Ndegeocello -- (and I know everyone in the band has a different list of mentors) who have paved the way for us. They have given us hope and guidance and I know, we have little of the challenges that they faced because they have already faced and traversed them. I give thanks for their work and they knowledge of the women we inspire today is what keeps me going.

Tania, Via Tania

"When I was growing up playing music there was a woman, Lindy Morrison who played drums in the Go Betweens that used to help out other young female musicians including myself with advice and helping get good shows etc. Then there were other women I was influenced by (rarely men) that led me down this whole path in the first place. I got to know these women personally and I always wanted to be just like them. I 'd say the only difference are the time you are playing music, the decades are really the context. I have a pet peeve when media say it's fashionable to be a women right now in music I think gee, wow , between the two sexes you are going to make one come in and out of fashion?"

Photo of Meaghan Smith

Meaghan Smith

"As a musician of this generation, I am so thankful that a lot of the pathway has already been cleared. This is not to say that we are in any way close to being on equal footing with our male counterparts, but at least some headway has been made. Lilith fair did a lot to help out with this by proving that a bunch of women on the same bill is actually a great thing. I am thrilled to be a part of Lilith this coming year.This topic is important to me and if you would like to make use of me or my experiences in any way, please feel free to do so.My email is meaghan@meaghansmith.com


Terra Lopez, Sister Crayon

There are differences for sure, I believe. I think that there are great things going on now and there was amazing female musicians in the past as well. I have to say that even though I adore many contemporary female musicians, I am a sucker for the past. Watching old videos of Billie Holiday and hearing the real pain she felt in every song, or Patsy Cline crying during songs...man, you don't see that everyday now. You know? But I think that women have more of a presence in music today, which is great. I think that more women are creating music that has not only become popularized in society but that is loved and adored by the world.

Shonna Tucker, The Drive-By Truckers

"I don't know if there are more women musicians today or not, but I do think that maybe there are more ways of knowing about them. Television, internet, etc. I guess it seems more acceptable today. Maybe this means that women feel more confident and comfortable doing what they do. It's ok to be talented! As the years go by, becomes more and more ok for women to be independent and hold careers of their own and this includes musicians. "

Carol Lester, Carol Lester & The World Women

This generation as in every generation there are the cover girl pop stars who are created and marketed by men (expect in the case of the fab Madonna who NEVER had a middle man and acted as her own pimp). There are also those women who break that mold and show the good bad and ugly or the beauty and the beast in who they are (and we all are). These women have less money behind them in marketing dollars and their reign is shorter, but their following is strong for the rest of their lives from female fans who understand the risk these women took in telling it like it really was in their lives through music. Here are just a few of my favorite women who inspire me to keep on writing and performing: Joni Mitchel, Joan Armatrading, Chrissie Heinz, Phoebe Snow, Alanis Morissette, Beyonce, yes even Lady Gaga

Kelley Mickwee, The Trishas

"Definitely. I see women from generations back who had to really fight for their place in music, who had to really prove themselves as musicians in order to gain the respect of their male counterparts and peers. Women these days, in general, have a much easier road to walk. If you have the talent, the determination and the presence....you have just as much a shot at success as a man. Thats how I feel anyway. Maybe others feel differently, maybe its a genre thing or a regional thing. I don't know. But Im from Memphis and moved to Austin and in both places, I have felt great support and hardly any suppression. I can imagine if you were to ask Loretta, or Mavis or Kitty or Odetta these same questions, you would get much different answers. I admire those women so much because they had to fight for their place. And it shows in their music and in their presence and in their legacy. Women musicians these days could stand to fight a little harder in my opinion :) Makes you stronger and strengthens the soul..... you can see in those women I mentioned. "

Jill King

"As women in general, it seems we face the same personal challenges. It seems more that what has changed is how society views women. More is accepted, and more is expected. I think earlier generations of women have made it easier on women today, by breaking down stereotypes and breaking through glass ceilings in our society in general.

As a woman musician, there are the same internal struggles and difficult decisions on how best to balance career and family. However, it is more accepted these days when a woman makes a choice to be away for career reasons, and it is more acceptable for women to take on the roles of living independently or of being bread-winners for their families. Now, more than ever before, women can wear many hats, and have it all. These days women are more respected for trying to balance marriage, home, children, artistry, adventure, career, and independence. This is thanks to the generations of women who came before and fought to change how women are viewed in society, to change our rights.

I do think, however, that the same complexities within each woman on how exactly to find her own balance - musician or not - still remain."

Photo of Amie Maciszewski, Amie & Sangeet Millennium

Amie Maciszewski, Amie & Sangeet Millennium

I think the gender gap is/was greater for women of my generation (baby boomers) than for women today. It's easier for women today to navigate in traditionally male arenas.

Jill Barber

I don't strongly feel that there are differences in generations of women musicians, but the climate has changed. There are many more opportunities for women musicians now. Even 15 years ago when I began playing guitar it seemed rare for girls to play/write. It seems to be more common now, young girls are more encouraged.


The only difference I can think of right now is that the current generation brings a lot more female musicians than the previous generation. Unless off course they were hiding in studios... ;-) But seriously, I think that there are more women who feel the urge to jump on stage nowadays, maybe also because it gets more and more accepted by society.

Meredith Sheldon, Family of the Year

Yes and no... In this crazy time, when the industry has been turned upside down and put into a blender, I think that men and women have a very different sense of what they can do on their own than they did, say, 20 years ago. There's a lot of power in being able to write your own songs, retain all ownership of them in terms of publishing and masters, and for some people, being able to record yourself. I think its a big deal for women especially to feel like they can be a part of the musical beast without the help of a big authoritative man pulling all the strings. Though that definitely still happens.

Photo of Hannah Lew, Grass Widow

Hannah Lew, Grass Widow

Well in terms of women performers- it seems that early female punk bands ,riot grrls, had the position of reaction in a feminist context, and at this point- since there are so many female bands- we are functioning in a sort of in a post- feminism context, where we don't really need to complain about how everything is misogynistic, and react- we can instead act in a feminist realm, past a struggle,utilizing a female language and a context for women in bands that is outside of image or representation, and based in talent and integrity. If is weren't for the riot grrl scene paving this path-we wouldn't be in the position we are in now. I'm not saying we don't have tons of shit to be pissed off about, but I am saying that I feel we have the opportunity to decide what context we want to thrive within. We're really glad to be aligned with the woman run Kill Rock Stars, and their dedication to politically consciousness.

Photo of Amber Rubarth, The Paper Raincoat

Amber Rubarth, The Paper Raincoat

Yes. Women have opened up from the time of Patsy Cline with her soft, pretty songs and conservative outfits, crossed legs.... to Janis Joplin and her forward and reckless music and attitude.... to someone like Ani DiFranco who showed the world that you can run your own empire as a woman. However I don't think it is only specific to women, I think the world in general has moved in these ways from acquiescence to a need to show individuality, to our need to be in charge of businesses and music and anything else. But in the end I think it is all just moving toward equality of everyone, our human-ness trumping any cultural or sex differences.

Photo of Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

I think there are a lot of singer/songwriters that carry the torch of guitar picking styles and political messages, as well as taking old folk and putting it into a "now" context (i.e. Meg Baird of Espers solo project). There is still a lot of traditional folk music, but I think that new female singer/songwriters are crossing new territory, with pedals and layering and vocals - really pushing themselves to stretch what folk music means now.

Photo of Stephanie Luke, The Coathangers

Stephanie Luke, The Coathangers

Yes and no. I would like to say i work just as hard as Janis or Diana but I'm sure the barriers back then were even higher and more vast. However when the going gets tough it helps to think of the Patti Smiths and the Kathleen Hannas who helped pave the way for women artists today.


... only technology has changed... :-)

Mia Doi Todd

I just watched the Patti Smith documentary and identified with her a lot. I identify with Nina Simone and Joni Mitchell as well. So there must be continuity. Now there is so much access to music and recording gear that every other person you meet in LA is in some band. That was not the case 40 years ago. That older generation of female musicians had to defy more odds than us today. Perhaps they had more classical training to support their craft.

Barbara Kooyman, Barbara K & Sparrows Wheel

When the music one plays is timeless, there is no difference between generations.

Margaret Ayre, Fern Knight

I think there are more women in rock and folk now than when I started playing indie rock 20 years ago. When I toured our country in 1995, it was rare to share the bill with any other women in bands. It is much different now and more balanced. It's been gradual, but I definitely have noticed more and more women on bills between 1995 and now.

Jen Olive

"yes.. i do

i notice that younger girls now are not as locked out... they seem to be more accepted... there are a lot of female players, writers, etc... and not all dance stuff...

when i was first starting it wasnt like that... seeing women i the forefront was not as common so i thnk girls today feel entitled to it, which is great... i think my generation was excluded from certain genres.. we had to fight to get in..."

Utah Green

Yes. I think that the evolution of women has come a long way, and we are beginning to see that men are more willing to support us, when all we have to do is ask. Kindly.

Photo of Ginger Brooks Takahashi, MEN

Ginger Brooks Takahashi, MEN

"The work that the wimmin's movement and feminism have accomplished have propelled us through to the radical activist work of riot grrrl. Now some younger women can dream and be. We love intergenerational collaboration!"

Camila Grey, Uh Huh Her/Adam Lambert

Women have always had an interesting role in music, and for the most part it's been an uphill battle. I think you answer your own question just by the title of this article. I don't think I've ever seen an article titled, "Being a man in music in 2010". I'm not trying to invalidate the role of women in music, but the title says it all. It is a man's world. Speaking of which I just saw the runaways biopic, and it's so clear that it was a huge problem then. They paved the way for woman to play loud hard rock music "like a man", and with each step made it easier and more formidable to be in music as a woman. That being said, I look at it from a genderless position, I always have. I don't think "I'm a woman, and I play woman music". I just play music, and I happen to have breasts.
I think this generation of women musicians have an entirely different experience for obvious reasons. The industry has changed so vastly I can barely keep up. It's a world now of pop superstars or indy artists. I feel like the gap is huge. Either you're an indie artist, or a megastar like Lady Gaga, and this can all happen in an instant. A blogger like Perez Hilton can give you a plug and then next thing you know, you're in the top 10 on the pop charts. It's the age of technology and sharing information. It's far different from the time when Alanis Morrisette was selling millions of records and touring grass roots style to get her name out there. It's just a different world, for better or worse.

Photo of Mo Perce, Lick Lick

Mo Perce, Lick Lick

I see that there are lots more women in bands than ever before. Maybe that means they are more courageous?

Janiva Magness

"Yes. I see a lot more women on Guitars, Bass & Drums than I ever have before... Keyboards and Wind instruments too. It used to be VERY rare to see a woman on the bandstand other than traditionally speaking, IF a woman is on the bandstand - she's singing.

That's great, but there is also the ""No Chicks"" rule that is of course totally insane, but it still does exists amongst male musicians. Not as severe as it used to be... but I still see it here and there. I'm just relieved women are continuing to break those small minded high school rules. I hear a lot less of ""yeah, she's good ... for a girl"" and a lot more ""yeah... she's good or great!"" and that's excellent. There is definitly evolution in process.... in my view, that's a beautiful thing for all of us!"

Petra Mases, Francis

I think that women musicians can get more space nowadays and we can act more as we want to, rather than what people expect of a woman artist. An there are more role models for young girls now and that will create more women musicians. Someday as many as there are male musicians. I hope so anyway.

Photo of Cariad Harmon

Cariad Harmon

"I think that it has been acceptable for some time for a woman to be a killer vocalist, from Bessie Smith to Aretha, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O'day, all these women were taken very seriously and deserved every bit of recognition they got.

Nina Simone was somewhat of a different kettle of fish as she was a controversial lyricist with songs like ""Strange Fruit"" (I'm not aware of any female lyricists and songwriters back then) and she was also a fantastic piano player but she is still far more widely recognized as a vocalist than she every was as a pianist or a songwriter.

I do think that has changed dramatically, with artists like Joni who came along just a few years later and was revered for her songwriting above all else, and women like Feist, and Adelle who are now being celebrated for their musicianship and instrumental ability as well as their vocal style. Interestingly I think that country music has been very open to the idea of women being versatile musicians with artists like Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton who were songwriters in their own right from the beginning, I wonder if that has to do with music being more of a family tradition in the South and an audience down there being more accustomed to the idea of seeing women who can really play.

Then there's Madonna who was really our first female iconic pop star with the same level of superstardom as the Elvis' and Beatles of the world. Now we have Lady Gaga and Britanny and I think it's a great shame that people still associate strong successful women with bitchy and hard nosed characteristics. The softer women at the top seem to be eaten alive by the industry like Brittany Spears was, but I think that is changing like everything else. Gwen Stefani seems to have a good balance between the two extremes that the tabloids sell us.

I also saw more and more female recording engineers creeping into the industry when I was managing a recording studio although I think that is still a very tough road. I immediately saw many clients become uncomfortable around the idea of trusting a young woman their session and I had to fight harder to sell their time. It was definitely much harder for women to get over the initial hurdle of meeting the client before proving themselves with the level of their skill.

However with anything, I think your talent and hard work shines through. People care about the quality of your work and if you consistently put out a good performance or product people will want to know who you are regardless of your gender, sex or sexual preference. That is one of the reasons music is such an amazing medium, it has the power to transcend everything and to change peoples lives. "


I guess that the sex object issue has always been an huge factor for the women musicians. Now it is a bit more, but when we look back it is kind of the same. But there are a lot more female musicians with stronger messagses today, not only singing about Love and break ups.

Jennie Arnau

"Yes- I find the older women are much stronger, in some ways harder. They have had to be. They have developed a tough skin because they had to break in to the scene through a very thick wall of brotherhood."

Photo of Sarah Tracey

Sarah Tracey

Our young generation is faced with a lot of challenges obviously, being the first to come up in the era of technology, blogs, myspace, twitter, youtube, and all of that. It's daunting trying to navigate it all! We won't be making most of our income from record sales, and have to constantly come up with ways to court the new media, keep it fresh for audiences that have almost unlimited access to music. The days of a record company controlling all the press on their artists are gone. Sometimes it seems like the music alone isn't enough- fans want more and more access via video blogs, social networks, etc. It's hard to imagine what Carly Simon or Joni Mitchell or Billie Holiday or Nina Simone would have done with Twitter at the beginning of their careers. I sometimes wish I was of the generation when a little mystery was an asset.

Dawn Landes

I don't really know any older women in the music business. I wish I did. I'd love to see someone show me how it's done. I toured with Suzanne Vega when I was first starting out and I remember her laughing at me as I got a little car sick on a ride to a venue. She gave me this look like "get ready... this is what the rest of your life's gonna be like:)" I have a feeling it hasn't really changed much, although on the technical side I see more and more women interning in studios and running sound and lights at clubs... so that's exciting.


"20 years ago, guys in suits decided everything in the music business.

But things have totally leveled out. Women have so much power now, I'd even dare to say more power... mainly because female fans (which is a probably one of the biggest single demographics, second maybe to 'teens') have no reservations about declaring their adoration for a female musician. The female fans are honest, and loud about their favorites. The influence is very direct.

Guys aren't AS eager to wear their favorite musician on their sleeve. After a certain age, boys seem less willing to evangelize about a male role-model... maybe its an ego thing."

Emily Neveu, Calico Horse, also solo artist

Yes. But I don't think that it pertains to just female musicians. Women today are expected to be both radio and video friendly. People care more about being seen than being heard. It's not their fault, it's just the way our society is today. On the other hand, I think that the independent music scene has done wonders for women. Because there are more and more independent bands and musicians, there are more and more women in music. We are becoming leaders of bands and being accepted within those bands as equals as our male band mates.

Jenny Conlee-Drizos, The Decemberists, Black Prairie

I think the younger generation of musicians has a lot better representation of women. I am not sure about other differences though. It is hard to lump a whole group of people together and make a judgement.

Jennifer Knapp

I can certainly say, that I feel the impact of other women musicians who have gone before me. Particularly in terms of women who have supported themselves throughout their live performances while playing guitar. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don't think upon artist's like Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Dolly Parton, Janis Joplin, Madonna to name just a few, that have brought a significant impact in their role as creators and shapers music culture. For me, I would say that as an artist today, it is in the generations before me that allow me, without embarrassment or undue force, to fully embrace the unique experience I have to share my music as a woman.

Evie Ladin, Evie Ladin Band/Stairwell SIsters

I do - I see older women wrestling with the age appeal - I think women "age-out" much faster, and it's harder to stay vital and appealing to broader audiences. Men can be physically unappealing and still have successful music careers - this is definitely harder for women to do. As I turned 40 and see the next generation of women coming up behind me, I know I will never be the next young thing to come onto the scene. But the experience I have is so valuable, and translates on stage. Our society is very focused on the young, especially in this business I think it's very hard to age, but I certainly admire the women I know who are working through that. Also I think only in the last generation or so has it been an option for women to pursue this professionally AND have a family - now it is acceptable for a man to assist his partner in pursuing her dreams too, while everyone raises the family.

Photo of Laura Burhenn, The Mynabirds

Laura Burhenn, The Mynabirds

Absolutely. I didn't used to think that way. In fact, I shied away from the "feminist" moniker for years, probably because I was hopeful that we'd already come a long way -- hey, everyone's equal now, right? But of course women still suffer from inequities -- pay inequities on down. In Georgie James, I started to get a real sense of some of the inequalities in the music industry. Things as simple as outsiders looking to John when asking a question (even though he and I were equal partners in the band, splitting songwriting and all other duties right down the middle) -- those were indicative of disparate treatment. I've been hit on, I've been asked really inappropriate questions. Thankfully it's the exception to the rule. And when things like that happen, I think, "You wouldn't go there if I was a man." I think the indie side of the industry doesn't suffer as much at all. But the pop world? Wow. Thankfully there are ladies in all pockets of the industry who've been blazing trails for decades. So for us ladies making music today, it's probably /not/ that different from being a man.
I definitely think there are generational differences between women musicians -- women who came up in the 60s definitely faced different pressures than I have. And the women musicians of the 80s and 90s have made it easier for me, I'm sure. If you look back historically, though, I'd say the women who have done what they've done -- not because of their sex, but because it's just who they are and what they do -- those are the types of women that are successful in every generation. Patti Smith, Carrie Brownstein, MIA -- brilliant ladies who put their brains into their music and look damn sexy doing it.

Shilpa Ray, Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers

Yes and No. I think Feminism in America went through a huge backlash during the W. Bush years. We are now going through a cool Renaisance. There are tons of amazing female musicians and artists on the scene with something to contribute and it's not cheesy, kitchy, or female centric. It's universal. Now if we can get a woman into the presidency without it being a media circus...

Elisa Randazzo

I think things are always cyclical, especially since the 60's, so it depends what part of the cycle we're in, but I definitely see repetition. I think music can be amazingly reminiscent when it comes from a person's sub-conscience, and this depends on what one's soaked in over the years. At this point in our greater development, it seems like we are amalgams of many things. Like conglomerate rocks, you can see the what kinds of elements make the greater whole, but the combination can also be totally unique.

Kelley Darlin, Those Darlins

Yes, even between the riot grrrl movement of the 90s to today. It has been a much more politicized position to be a woman musician in the past, whereas today I think women approach with a much more "so what" sense of entitlement and ownership. While that may seem unappreciative of previous women's efforts or somehow that modern women aren't political or are complacent, I think it's just the opposite and speaks to the progress that women before us have made. The ultimate goal of just about any movement in my opinion is to make it to where people in the future won't have to use their energy to fight the same battle.

Photo of Edie Carey

Edie Carey

I play a lot of women's festivals and get to see a number of crazily talented artists who are from the 1970's women's music movement (Kris Williamson, Tret Fure, Ferron). Of course, that world was far from the mainstream back then (just like much of the indie scene is now), but I think those women were a HUGE reason that artists like me have the audience that we do. I have no doubt that so many of those women experienced so many more closed doors than so many of my peers and I do - and as a result, it's no wonder that these artists are still playing primarily at women's festivals even though I think their music would be so well-received by men and women alike.

The Whispering Tree

" It seems like in mainstream music there has been a shift away from substance and towards image - especially for women. There was a time when major labels would get behind great female artists - regardless of how they looked. But 'mainstream' is pretty irrelevant nowadays anyway. So, while the majors have pretty much bailed on worthwhile female artists, there is now a plethora of women who are making the music they want on their own terms. This has created an abundance and a great variety of female musicians who don't have to compromise their vision in any way. "

Stephanie Nilles

Yes. The older generations of women tend to have experienced more obvious forms of gender discrimination. I think that tends to make them more hyper-aware of it, but it has also meant that in order to survive in the business they've had to work their way around it. My generation of women have this react-by-working mindset seemingly less so. Maybe, growing up with pop music has meant we've always been somewhat aware that we could always just get by via looking sexy, or choosing a look (innocent girl nextdoor look = pure voice and simple sound, etc). But that is the entire business--these days, people (both men and women) tend to go about development as an artist by figuring out what is the best marketing strategy, as opposed to just learning art until they have become a working artist.

Catie Curtis

"There's so many more of us now. You can't really generalize about women in music anymore because there's so much diversity.

Women (and men) no longer need to be ""chosen"" by labels, by the industry. We make our own paths now, using the internet and social media. That gives us the latitude to really be ourselves. "

Photo of Anni Rossi

Anni Rossi

The younger women I know tend to be pursuing their own solo artist career or band while the older women are working behind the scenes in production, specifically high end pop production for other artists. Unfortunately, I don't know many women in the music industry over the age of 40. The women I know who have sustained themselves for a number of years have filled multiple musical roles over the course of their career. As a young musician looking to the experienced generation's successes and struggles, I would feel like I hit the jackpot if I was able to continue presenting and developing my own artistic ideas full time for the long term.

Ashlyne Huff

"I think women were more masculine in a sense back then. The Runaways, Janis, Pat, etc. They had a strength about them...yet still feminine. Now if you are like that, you are considered ""punkish"" rather than just strong. Then you have the other side--straight up girly: dresses and accentuated chests and lots of makeup and high heels.


Photo of Jonatha Brooke

Jonatha Brooke

I do see a lot more women really taking technical charge of things. recording, engineering. That is the best. What's a little disenchanting is the way the visual part of marketing women artists, at least main stream pop artists has become so sexualized, - we don't even blink at really violent disturbing images any more. takes so much to grab the diminishing attention span these days.

Olivia Fetherstonhaugh, Fanshaw

"Older folks usually assume that I am 'just the singer' if they haven't seen me play, or that I am the 'front woman' but don't write the songs. People my age are more used to women being in the industry.. I haven't been treated too differently..except that sometimes sound guys will ask me if I need my guitar tuned for me .

Also I think I am forgiven for not being a particularly technical guitar player."
"I'm not sure... I guess I'm supposed to say that women were more accepted as pop stars or folk singers before..but I think since the late 70s and 80s women have really been as accepted as creative leaders. Maybe not in mainstream music but I think about people like Nina Hagen, Kate Bush (who was mainstream!) , Laurie Anderson etc etc these woman were really respected for pushing boundaries

Ultimately, I'm not sure I see too much of a difference now. Mainstream pop/rock music doesn't expect men to wear their sexuality on their sleeve as much as women.... and even the most succesful 'tough girls' don't take it all the way. Avril Lavigne dances in front of pink skulls, wears tu tus and so on.

So I mean, probably there are differences but I'm not sure how much that has permeated the mainstream. The mainstream is always more conservative (in terms of change). And there are a lot female artists, particularly from the 70s and 80s onward outside of the mainstream that I still look up to without taking their time and place into consideration. Kate Bush is still a fucking art star."

Jessi Darlin, Those Darlins

With the music industry in such a change and the rise of the independents, male and female musicians have been able to go out and say "this is who I am, this is what I want to do." It's a beautiful thing! In terms of women of today and women of years before, I think this change in the industry is what makes them different. In years before, even the most badass women have had to answer to their Big Time lawyers, managers, and record labels telling them to dress like this, talk like this, walk like this and baby we'll make you a star. Today's woman musician now has so many more doors open to her to be an independent woman in more than one way! I am really grateful to be making a living playing music without someone telling me to fix my teeth, shave my legs, and suck in my stomach. Instead I have had the opportunity to make decisions like, do I even want my picture on the cover of our first album? (I chose no.)

Kate McGarry

In jazz, we have some very tough shoes to fill - Artists like Sarah Vaughn, Ella, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter and Nina Simone just aren't to be found anymore in this genre. It does seem that genres have their hey day and then lulls.. don't you think? The challenge for us today is to be totally fluent and steeped in the tradition that these great women created for us but to keep moving forward and express in ways that are relevant to us now, not try to recreate anything from the past.

Simone White

"I feel like women artists are categorized more. I get compared to a lot of different artists and usually the only thing that's similar is that we're both women, that gets pretty annoying. I don't think men have to deal with that as much. But definitely things have changed a lot since I was growing up. Girls today have so many women artists to look up to, and they learn guitar at a very young age. I never felt like it was a possibility for me, as pathetic as it sounds, I had to wait till I didn't have a musician boyfriend to start playing guitar."
I think today's younger women musicians are starting out with more confidence but I could say that about young men as well. Everyone can be an artist now, it's more accessible, making a record, putting yourself out there, finding your audience. But with that there might also be the feeling of deserving success and feeling rotten if you don't get it. For me, and perhaps others of an older generation, I never thought it was possible to make a living as an artist so everything I've been given feels like a huge blessing, not a right. Now it seems like there is more of the possibility of instant overnight success on a much wider level and everything is so sped up. I think it used to be that you plugged away at it, mostly, because you loved doing it.

Grace Parker, The Blue Hit

The older women who have been my mentors tell me that I am doing a very brave thing. They warn that it is hard to earn your place in this industry, especially if you are doing it for the love of the art, but once you make your name known the way can be paved for you. The younger ladies I have met are often either very shy or over-confident. It seems like they have had to jump some significant gender hurdles already in their career, and everyone handles that differently. The younger girls are also much more concerned about their looks than their stage presence or musical content.

Rebecca Schlappich, Kiss Kiss

"There are marked differences between being a woman and being a man in the music industry.  For the sake of brevity, I'm just going to take a look at the role I chose in the music industry, that of a woman in a touring rock band. You can't deny that there is a double standard of sorts in an industry in which an all-female band is still something of a novelty. There's no novelty to all-male bands, right?  So where does this double standard stem from?

In past decades it was much more difficult for women to be recognized and respected as contributing members of the musical community. In the 70's, 80's, and 90's to some degree, while the stereotype of a ""rockstar"" was a sexually charged, drug consuming, guitar-slinging Adonis with throngs of interchangeable female groupies, female musicians fought tooth and nail, working twice as hard to get their voices heard.  Women like Mama Cass, Janis Joplin, Debbie Harry, Pat Benetar, and Joan Jett paved the way for female musicians today. 

I am happy to admit that there are many more girls in bands today than there ever have been before.  Especially when you take a look at the ""underground,"" indie music scene, you frequenty see bands with at least one female member. It is still a male-dominated industry, but from my experiences, most of the tangible oppression has been overcome or left in the past. The worst I ever experience is being confused for a ""merch girl"" or girlfriend of the band during load-in, which I generally laugh off, unless I'm in a particularly combative mood.  Very rarely I'll have to deal with some light harrassment from a drunk bar patron, but I don't view this as relevant to being a female musician.  Drunk idiots are everywhere.

To be honest, I feel that the double standard mainly resides in the minds of women. I play so many shows where girls come up to me afterwards and tell me that they wish they played an instrument. I want to shake them and yell ""Well, why don't you?!"" but I generally try to phase that sentiment in a more positive way, and inspire them through my life and my music.  It's just disheartening when I see so many young girls content with being groupies to their boyfriend's bands rather than picking up an instrument, any instrument, and being rockstars themselves. There's no better time than right now to be a woman in a band, and personally there is nothing I would rather be doing with my life than making music with my band."
I touched on this briefy in the last question, noting some trailblazing women of past generations who made it possible for the current climate of possibility to exist for me and my fellow female musicians today. Instead, I'd rather note the similarities between the generations of female musicians. No matter what, touring and promoting your own music is hard work. It takes an incredibly strong woman to survive life on the road and thrive on little more than the belief that what you're creating is valid and relevant and worthy of recognition. I don't say this to laud my own strengths, rather I feel it is worthy of mentioning because every single woman I've met who does what I do has had a huge amount of inner strength and beauty. These are powerful, ballsy women, of whom I consider myself lucky to be among the ranks.

Andreya Triana

I think woman as well as men have always made their mark in music whether this was 10 years ago or 50 years ago.

Shannon Frid, Cloud Cult

I think nowadays you see women in bands who can play a wider variety of instruments, in other words do more than just sing. For instance Ra Ra Riot, who also has two string players or local band Roma di Luna. Channy Moon Casselle is lead vocalist and plays the violin as well. Both groups are a great representation of what a talented woman can add to a band.....

Chandra Watson, The Watson Twins

Yes, there are more women in the music industry which is amazing and with that there has been a lot of progress in how we are viewed. I think the women's movement through out the last 40 years a pretty accurate comparison to the music business, we have made great strides but still have a ways to go.

Mary Pearson, High Places

"I think there is going to be a really strong new generation of women musicians. There are all of these rock camps for girls that are doing tremendous things to teach young girls about rock music and to give them the confidence and the drive to pursue playing in bands. "

Photo of Annalisa Tornfelt, Black Prairie.

Annalisa Tornfelt, Black Prairie.

Women are the same, we are just treated differently in this generation.

Photo of Becka Pimenta

Becka Pimenta

"I think there are more women empowered today than there were decades ago, this being said there is still much to be done."

Jen Gloeckner

I think the music business has changed drastically for everyone, whether man or woman. Everyone, even those who have been in the business for years seem to be lost on what to do to market an artist. This makes things difficult, because it is very hard to get good advise or help from others. At the same time, it opens many doors and allows for creative marketing. It seems like their really are no rules now. The social media sites are the biggest blessing, as they let you take the music directly to the listener.

Photo of Carolyn Cunningham, Woven Bones

Carolyn Cunningham, Woven Bones

"That is an excellent question, and one that I don’t feel totally qualified to answer. I have not spent a lot of time with women musicians who are from a different generation than me. I think older women musicians had a much harder row to hoe than I did. Rock n roll has always been a boys club. Something that happens fairly frequently is women who are older than me coming up to me after shows. They give me the best compliments and are super supportive. A lot of them say things like, ""wow, playing drums would be so fun!"" like it is something they never considered doing themselves.

In each of my bands there have been a handful of times that people assumed I was the guitar player’s girlfriend or whatever. But aside from that and a few comments about how I am a “good girl drummer” (as opposed to a “good drummer”), I feel very supported. I don’t think women always had that feeling. I guess I have my parents to thank for never making a big deal out of me playing the drums. They always told me I did a good job, and it wasn’t because I was a girl, but because I was first chair. "

Rebecca Lucille Cannon, The Texas Sapphires

Yes, I do. I think women are way more powerful now, than they were in the past. After all, at least in America, there are Rock Camps for Girls, which proves a greater acceptance of females playing instruments in rock bands. Females are dominating the world wide pop charts, like Lady Gaga. And yes, women are using their sexuality to sell their music, but i don't think that is anything new. I think if you are talented, and you want to use your sexuality to help sell your music, then more power to you. However, if you have no talent, and you try and use your sex to sell your music, I think your career will be short lived or ridiculed. Brittany Spears may not have the greatest voice, but she's a fabulous dancer, and entertainer, and her lifestyle keeps us interested!

Rebecca Scott, Panda Riot, architecture

I can't really say due to my embarrassing lack of knowledge of a lot of music, but I think that there are a lot of women now that are breaking into and creating new genres, which is really exciting. I am thinking in particular of women like M.I.A, Victoria Legrand from Beach House, the women from Coco Rosie, Mary Timony, Joanna Newsom, and others. The music that they make defies generic categorization and, as a result, they give our culture new ideas of what it means to be a female musician.

Doris Cellar, Freelance Whales

Well I feel like before the 1960's it was more of a struggle for women to make it as a musicians, so there was a lot more dignity involved in the way they handled there persona's. Now, and I'm not speaking for every woman in the industry, but it seems as though certain women turn themselves into sex objects in order to push their career forward.

Meagan Beth Plummer; Jonas Sees In Color.

It seems like there are less and less women in the spotlight who are real artists; so many popular female performers are seen as simple eye-candy that play songs written and produced by men, instead of as women who can create and think for themselves. There is more attention paid to superficial characteristics than to the real signs of talent and hard work I saw in the women that made me want to play music. The talented, real women are still out there now; they just need to be heard. Fads pass, but the authentic art will be what lasts.

Photo of Emily Robison, Court Yard Hounds (and Dixie Chicks)

Emily Robison, Court Yard Hounds (and Dixie Chicks)

Every generation has it's pioneers.

Jendayi Bonds, Charlie Belle

I have Girls Rock, and my instructors have said that they didn't have a camp where they could meet other girls who liked to rock. It's just normal for me to know other girls who are rockers.

Frankie Blue, Schmillion

In the past, there were real prejudices against women in music. I haven't experienced any prejudices today but people do still think of women as a commodity.

Marissa Nadler

"I think women today have a more DIY approach, with much of that due to the prevalence of technology. Women can book their own tours and build their own fanbases, as well as control their own images and imagery, from home. They don't necessarily need a record label and they don't need a label telling them how to dress or how to sound.

It is a good step for young women especially starting out right now. The options are so much more open. "

Elana James, The Hot Club of Cowtown

I think music is really a tight business these days. There's a huge element of it now that is DIY where you can just decide you're going to do it and away you go--you don't need a label or an agent or a manager or whatever--there are all sorts of ways to show up (digitally, in real life, whatever), and new, unconventional ways to be seen and to grow a fan base. But because of that, these days I think it would likely be hard to sit around smoking pot or being laccadaisical (sp??)--there is no substitute for working your butt off and making it happen. I think in the past there were more established people who could step in and take care of things--it's more of a free for all now, and you have to be very focused and stay the course. But some issues remain. I would love to have a kid, or even a family, and have not been able to figure out yet how to do that and how to keep touring and maintain my career--it's a puzzle, and likely not too different from what women tried to deal with 30 years ago.

Photo of Sara Bareilles

Sara Bareilles

I see the young generation lacking a sense of direction that isn't image based. I want more Joni Mitchells, Tori Amoses, Joan Jetts, Janis Joplins. And I want to see more women feel empowered to be who they are at a younger age. There are a lot of fantastic examples of strong ladies out there but, like myself, I feel like we don't give ourselves permission until we are older. And it sucks that I just said older and I mean 30. I'm as lame as the rest of em.

Kelly Ogden, The Dollyrots

I absolutely think it's different for women of my generation. We've had some amazing women pave the way for us. I can't imagine being in this band in the 70's or even the 80's. At least I can say, "Well she did it. I can try!"

Jan Seides

My take is that the younger generation isn't afraid of being flamboyant, exuberant, sexy. My generation was far more subdued. I think the difference began with the punk rockers. In my generation the model was Joni Mitchell, who though brilliant, was subdued and "feminine". Now that model is Lady Gaga and Beyonce. In between was Tina Turner, Chrissie Hynde and Patti Smith .

Vanessa Silberman aka Diamonds Under Fire

I don't really see many differences between generations of women musicians -- I think it's probably easier for female musicians presently as audiences are more accepting and supportive. There are also so many more female musicians now.

Katy, Peggy Sue

I think that with our generation there is less of an element of rebellion in being a female musician, it is seen less as woman breaking into a mans world - although the balance is still woefully off. There is a level of support amongst our female peers that is noticable but I don't know whether that existed in previous generations, probably it did in certain circles.

Jennifer Leonhardt

"Of course stylistically influences of peer groups but mostly I find women musicians are looking to support each other and so go looking for commonality. I adore the themes of individuality that women from Laura Nyro to Feist and PJ Harvey to Peaches are encompassing. It's tough to insist on individuality in an industry that is meantime looking to pimp you out."

Leslie Stevens, Leslie and The Badgers

Not so much.

Photo of Vanessa Lively

Vanessa Lively

"Yes, I do. I feel that in the past, women had to work really hard just to be taken seriously, and this is as recent as the 60s and 70s here in the United States. If you were singing about real life and real issues, you had to make quite a stink and really blow people away in order to be noticed. And I feel that for my generation, we had some really great women musicians to look up to and follow in their footsteps, such as Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos, Tracy Chapman, The Indigo Girls, Sarah McLaughlin, and many many more. These women really got their music out there and even under record labels, remained independent and had control over their own creative and artistic ideas.

I feel greatly inspired by all of these artists, and am continuing to find more women who inspire me now. I am also grateful that I live in this time because in the past it might have been even more frowned upon if you didn't decide to stay home and raise a family. Artists always have to struggle with these choices, especially touring musicians. It is very hard to lead a ""normal"" life and do what we do. But nowadays, all norms are shifting and all people are opening up to living life in a different way, so the choice is not so hard, and I feel that our friends and family are very supportive in most cases. In the past, this probably was not the case."

Rebecca Pidgeon

"I think that of course there are differences in style between the generations of women musicians. Songwriting changes as perspective does. I think the younger generation of women are not carrying the torch of feminism quite so prominently, simply because they just expect more equality that has already been won for them by the older generation. In a business sense, now that the music industry is changing so much, I think artists both male and female are expecting to be much more involved in the business of making, owning and marketing their material. Artists are being forced to be more independent, and more inventive about how to get their music out there. It's much harder to get a record deal for example, but much easier to make your own record, and there's always a chance it will catch on on the internet."

Photo of Emma Anzai, Sick Puppies

Emma Anzai, Sick Puppies

I'd say that women musicians these days (because of the economy and how the industry is in recent times) need to be more thick skinned and adaptable, you have to be cool with sharing buses, rooms etc and being able to think more like a guy to get by.

Chris Humphrey

At the age of 60, things look a lot different than they did when I was 30. In my thirties (the 1980s), I felt I had to put my music on hold in order to raise my family. It was only after my children were grown that I felt free enough to do music again. Even today I think it would be difficult to try to balance children and the life of a musician.
I think today's generation of women musicians are a lot more savvy than previous generations. There are more resources available to everyone, regardless of gender -- for example, classes on business strategies for artists, health support organizations for artists,etc.

Photo of Leanne Macomber. Neon Indian

Leanne Macomber. Neon Indian

I wish I had some older women to discuss this with. To stereotype I guess women have busted out of the lead vocalist role. More of us are bassists and lead guitarists than ever I would assume.

Margo Timmins

I believe the problems are the same for every generation of women, past, present and future, because I believe it is based on the fact that are needs are totally different and that won't change. However, I do believe that we have it easier than the women in the past because we have more rights, we have stronger voices and we are not as intimidated by the labels. I hope that the women in the future will face less labels and that an understanding of our differences will be more accepted and therefore a the balance will be found more easily. I also hope there will be more woman in the business not just as musicians but as crew, managers etc..

Photo of Datri Bean, Minor Mishap Marching Band and Datri Bean

Datri Bean, Minor Mishap Marching Band and Datri Bean

"Yes. A lot of the female musicians we know from past generations, were vocalists- not instrumentalists, not writers, certainly not band leaders. Even if they could do these things, they were relegated to the role of vocalist with a pretty face, and not allowed to show their other musical abilities. For example, Charo was a really good classical guitarist- but the industry quickly took her out from behind the guitar and had her dancing instead. Very few people know her as anything but a flashy performer and pretty face.

As time passes women are integrating themselves into more roles. Many more of my peers are staying behind the guitar, drum kit, bass and making their own business and creative decisions."

Becky Ninkovic, You Say Party! We Say Die!

yes and it mostly reflects the times. it is very interesting to observe the differences between generations and to observe what is happening with women in music now. there seem to be a lot of strippers making their way into the business now.

Photo of Suzanna Choffel

Suzanna Choffel

Definitely. A lot of it has to do with the changing nature of the music business. I think there are differences between generations of men musicians too in this regard. I think women musicians these days have it a bit easier than women musicians from generations past simply because it isn't regarded as such a strange, taboo thing now for a woman to be a musician. Also it seems that there is more collaboration between female musicians these days whereas in the past I think woman were a bit more protective of their "claim" in the music industry, so maybe there was a bit more exclusivity in their worlds. I constantly have other female musicians reaching out to me and I reach out to others' to help each other, to advise, to collaborate. I think it's a bit more friendly now because it's one big open field where it used to be a bit more divided by degrees of success. Also there are just more female musicians now to reach out to, whereas in years past it was such a male-run thing, it seemed like maybe you were just surrounded by male musicians, businessmen, etc.

Debi Nova

Absolutely. I think women musicians in the new millennium can use the element of sexuality to their favor without jeopardizing their credibility as talented musicians. It seems like most of the female musician/artists in the nineties played down their sexuality a bit. Most of them wore oversized, manly clothes and didn't use much make-up. It was almost as though the less girly they looked the more people would respect their playing, with exceptions of course. Nowadays things are different, women are not afraid to embrace their sexual appeal and they actually use it to complement their playing.

Terri Hendrix

I do. This "gender" thing will die off. As I write this to you, it is. The new generation is fearless. They are also fantastic. They keep me on my toes for sure. They will have my job if I don't practice. They seem to embrace musicianship. They seem more eager to learn to play. Let me add that women my age are coming back into the fold too. They are picking back up their instruments. I teach workshops. Attendance has more than doubled for women. Ten years ago, this was not the case.

Photo of Wendy Colonna

Wendy Colonna

"I think that all women who have made a career in music have made very hard decisions and sacrifices since the beginning of the entertainment industry. It's challenging to know that your career is likely to suffer or even end if you venture into motherhood. My grandmother was a singer in Trinidad in a troop who performed for the soldiers. They were a very well established act in the Islands and she had to retire in order to marry.

There have been amazing examples of women musicians in my mother's generation who found a way to balance their business and families and they are an inspiration to me.

Sarah McLaughlan and Ani Difranco were key mover in the generation of women before me, shifting the women in business/musician role paradigm. These women, their own ways were trail blazers for my generation.

My generation of women musicians have the challenge of becoming creative in terms of not only musical content, but business. In a world where the music business is often referred to as ""in shambles,"" we have an opportunity to participate in an entirely new paradigm of distribution and access. "


The major difference between women from the late 80's until now, with the exception of maybe Sade, is a nurturing quality to their music. Women used to be more inspiring and loving rather than competitive and materialistic with their lyrics. Older generations, especially in soul, jazz, and R&B used to be family oriented, revolutionary, filled with pride, and loving. I think this has changed a GREAT deal.

Arran Murphy, Dark Room Notes

this is something i need to think about a bit more,

Ginger Leigh

I was raised by very independent, hard-working female musicians, which is where I get my drive and work-ethic, so I don't see a huge difference between my mother's generation and mine, however the obvious answer would be that women who have been in music (for decades and decades) were likely more exposed to things kept from women in more conservative times. Women in music spend a lot more time with men in music, more time on the road, more time in bars, so we're often more exposed to those things than say...a stay-at-home mother, but who's to say she hasn't seen those things as well? I know for sure that my own grandmother back in the 30's and 40's spent a lot of time back stage "with the boys" as she calls it and she was much more exposed to a party-lifestyle than most women of her generation, but her parents made sure she was safe and home at a decent hour. Today, it isn't as tough on women, who are allowed to be much more independent and much more learned.

Sara Hickman

Girls/women today are TONS more confident because of all the women who broke ground before them and showed them: YOU CAN DO THIS. Also, because of Girl Rock Camps, girls understanding they CAN DO ANYTHING, and not being brought up with the thought that only men played instruments and only women sang. Women today are engineering, producing, mixing, mastering, performing, multi-tasking, understanding the music industry---lawyers, publishers, etc. When I was growing up, I had to figure things out by myself. I was the only girl in my school who played guitar and wrote songs, until I got to high school----then there was FOUR of us....then, in college, I was the only one I knew who did what I was doing....When I moved to Dallas, I only had about three "competitors" from women musicians...there were far and few between us. Now, women are EVERYWHERE, sharing their own brand of femininity and ferocioucity! Go, ladies!

Astrum Lux Lucis, One World (R)evolution

Yes. I think the younger women feel they have to exploit themselves sexually instead of just being kick ass at their craft. Older women are more confident in their own abilities and are secure enough in themselves to let their talents carry them. I think this is more of a cultural thing though and can be seen in all women, not just musicians. The media programs girls at a young age that their looks are the only thing that matter and will get them success. It's quite sad actually.

Stephanie Bradley, Stephanie Bradley Band

"Yes, as women earn more, and have less children, they record more."

Rochelle Terrell

I do see the differences I noticed that music constantly evolves, but a little piece of history is implanted in every female musician and carried on to the future. Women musicians to me are like fine wine we only get better with time.

Alyse Black

I think younger musicians right now, particularly women, are finding that they need to be scrappers. They need to grassroots everything. I think many of the older women musicians are more talented and INCREDIBLE. But they don't necessarily want to get involved with the nitty gritty of getting their music out there. And I would be lying to say that there wasn't an industry pull toward youth.

Stefanie Fix

I do think there is a difference between generations of women musicians and I'm greatly encouraged by it. The new generation of women coming into the business are a lot less inhibited than previous generations. They've been supported and encourage to learn all different instruments that previous generation were discouraged from learning. Now we see many more women drummers, bass players, sax players etc. Slightly older generations of women were subtly intimidated into believing that they could not master their instruments- the idea that women could be good players but no woman could fill the shoes of say, Les Paul or John Coltrane. The new generation of women musicians has greater confidence in the notion that they can and will be great musicians.

Elizabeth McQueen, Asleep at the Wheel

I see the next generation of girls approaching music, especially tradtionally male instruments like guitar and drums, in a much less timid manner. Which makes my heart soar.

Photo of Kerry Davis, Two Tears

Kerry Davis, Two Tears

I came from the Riot Girl scene though I didn't participate in it , I see less girls picking up instruments and female musicians getting less exposure and it makes me sad. I'm hoping with Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls and other solo artists that "trend" will return. But we're raised to believe we're not "allowed" to be in bands.

Julieann Banks

I have not seen much of that. Really good female musicians that intend to do this their whole life are focused and work harder than most males because they have to.

Photo of Phoebe Hunt, The Belleville Outfit

Phoebe Hunt, The Belleville Outfit

"I do see differences and similarities. Women are always gonna be seen for their beauty regardless of their talent. But I believe there is so much beauty in talent that it can outshine the need to look like a model in order to be successful. I see younger girls being more and more bold about being a musician. I see gender stereotypes declining. For example, I see the older generation of women being glorified for beauty above talent, where people like Madonna helped to shift the mindset a bit by being so outlandish and independent that although she marketed her beauty she also shifted perception. And now there are some really genuinely talented females being glorified-- Norah Jones and Bonnie Raitt are two good examples but an even younger example is Sarah Jarosz, an incredibly gifted multi-instrumentalist who is receiving national acclaim. And even Taylor Swift (as marketable as she is) is being recognized as a lyricist and visionary for crossing the pop and country worlds (even though I dont see it as much of a cross since the two today are so similar already). But still, she is being recognized for intellectual virtues. This is not to say that the vanity surrounding the female gender will ever go away, we are still the society that glorified Brittany Spears and her beauty at such a young age that she lost herself in the whirlwind.


Photo of Gretchen Peters

Gretchen Peters

I think younger female musicians feel freer (and have more role models) to express themselves musically in a lot of areas. There seem to be more young woman instrumentalists, including drummers and lead guitar players, which was very rare when I was growing up.

Corrina Rachel, Corrina's Dreamland Band

Not especially, only the differences of age and wisdom that apply to males and females.

Photo of Emma Cooper, Standard Fare

Emma Cooper, Standard Fare

My mother was in a punk band, and roady-ed for bands before I was born and then was in Klezmer bands whilst I was growing up. She was a great example and was always honest about the men that supported and helped her and the men in bands that ignored her.

Laurie Lewis

Certainly. When my aunt was in an all-girl dance band in the 1930's and '40's, it was very difficult to be seen as anything but an gimmick. These days, women musicians are much more accepted on artistic terms. That being said, sex still does sell.

Melissa Greener

There are HUGE differences in generations of musicians. Primarily in the number of us doing this crazy thing. In a way it was easier for former generations in that, if you were ambitious and were very talented, you could get a lot of support (labels, publishing, etc.) only because there were far fewer players to compete with than there are now. In a way it's easier now, because of the accessibility of resources (venues, agents, djs, publishers, etc.) despite our numbers.

Champian Fulton

I'm not able to answer because truthfully I don't know very many female musicians at all, let alone know them well enough to answer this question.

Kellye Gray

Yes, the newer generations are beginning to be able to take advantage of all the efforts that their predecessors made to create a more level playing field. They are also, on average, better musicians so they garner their own respect onstage and in the studio with fellow male musicians.

Photo of Deann René, On Edje

Deann René, On Edje

"Maybe with writing songs. Seems like older women write from a more ""life experience"" approach than younger women. "

Photo of Suzy Thompson

Suzy Thompson

"The music scene has changed a tremendous amount since I started playing the fiddle which is about 35 years ago now. When I started, there were hardly any women instrumentalists and being a ""girl fiddler"" was a big deal. There definitely was some sexism but in general, I’d say that the musicians of stature (people like Dewey Balfa, Tommy Jarrell, Mike Seeger to name a few) always treated me like a person and not like some kind of cute girl fiddler. Of course I was never a ""babe,"" not conventionally pretty (in fact kind of homely) and that probably was a help in a certain way. In the east, where I grew up, there were very very few women fiddlers when I started playing. Maria Muldaur was the first one I saw! But, in the Bay Area (always ahead of the pack) there were quite a few great players: Sue Draheim, Laurie Lewis, Cathie Whitesides, Irene Herrmann, to name just a few. In those days, for example, in fiddle contests there would often be a ""best woman fiddler"" prize. Things are completely different now, nobody would dream of calling Alison Krauss or Natalie MacMaster or Rayna Gellert a ""girl fiddler."" There are tons of great women fiddlers now. One thing hasn't changed, though: it's still way more important for a female musician to be thin and conventionally good-looking than for a male musician."

Kim Miller

Early in my career I was a 'target': Imagine a young girl, on her own, playing bars and clubs in Houston and on the road in the 70's? In so many places where a man could be transparent, I could not. It was scary, sometimes. It took some daring to alter my middle-class culturing and embrace all the risk that came with being single-force-woman pursuing my dream. Why didn't I want to finish college? Why didn't I want to get married, have kids? It's much easier now. Occasionally I still have to dodge the 'come on' bullet but there are a lot more gentlemen out there in the biz now.
Yes, it's inevitable. Technology and culture has changed so much. But at our root, the longing and drive are no different. When you feel the calling to be a troubadour, manifesting it is in the details. It's 'the song' that drives us all - young and old.

Sarah Brown

I think the punk scene changed things for women, in that "oddness" was encouraged. People accept women "rocking out" now more than they used to. It's seems that music has benefited too from the general shift in attitudes towards women.

Jean Synodinos

Not really, but that might be Austin. We're lucky enough to live in a town where music lovers are as old as they are young. And that's also reflected in the array of ages of working musicians here. I can think of amazing female musicians that span the ages of 16 to 60. I don't know that you'd find that in a lot of other towns.

Lindsay Wells

Yes. You've seen more women take control of their careers.

Submitted Anonymously

I see some older women musicians I know who seem scared and alone and wondering how to support themselves if their career is not doing well. They're also incredibly smart, have a confidence about them, and just as talented and beautiful as ever.

Myrna Cabello, The MyrnaRocksBand

To be honest I haven't even thought about it. But now that you've made me think about it... I do know that the strong successful women in this town are older and work together quite a bit. I think with the younger generations you don't see it as much. Even though the internet has made it easier for people to get their music out there, it has in a sense made it more difficult to break through the masses. It's a different world in radio as well. It's harder.

Deborah Holland, The Refugees

"yes- women musicians today don't feel they have any constraints also, a woman musician in a band is now considered an asset, something cool"

Ruby Jane

In my experience, the older generations have been very generous to me...sharing the music and helping me. I plan to also pass on my knowledge, experience, and music to the next generation. It is the only was for its survival.

Brigitte London

A lot of the younger women in country music seem to feel they need to use their sexuality more than ever, first before talent, and that makes me sad because hey- its great to be sexy - but show your talent FIRST, use that as your platform, not your ass. The visual commercialism has been bred into them by VIDEOS and the media. I mentor a lot of young artists, and they feel frightened they aren't attractive enough. (I am considered OLD in this business at 40 LOL). But I love performing with women of all ages. Have always done "Women Songwriting Shows." for years. Supporting each other is SO necessary. And some of the young talent just makes me proud. All those women who came before us who opened the doors...Bonnie Raitt, Chrissy Hynde, Loretta Lynn, Heart, Joni Mitchell, etc..... so much is owed to them.

Laura Mordecai

On the business side yes. But mostly in the same respect as men from one generation to the next. The older women I've had the privilege to work with were strong, savvy and focused and went about their music making despite any gender issues. Today, the younger women are just as tenacious but have more business knowledge and more tools available to them so they, like young men in the business, don't have to lose their power so much to lawyers, accountants, record companies, managers, etc.

Laura Marie

For a long time, I was surrounded by men and the few women I ran into were highly competitive. It was hard to find a female friend in the industry. That has changed dramatically. More women support each other and work together which is heartening. More men take us seriously. My guess is that, with the support of other women, we've learned to take ourselves more seriously and do not feel that we have to prove ourselves to the men in the industry.
I'm always blown away by the heart and soul that comes from more mature women in music. Self-consciousness fades and they are directed by an inner sense of purpose that enables them to really connect with their audience. The more comfortable they are with themselves, the more they give. It's a beautiful thing to watch women move into that phase. Of course, some younger women have it as well but, generally speaking, it takes time to develop.

Tortilla Factory

Perhaps in the clothes an hairstyles. We are each unique individuals that bring heart and soul in our own way.

Phanie Diaz, Girl In A Coma

There is difference. Musicians who are coming before this technology boom had to work a lot harder. There wasn't internet,email,myspace,twitter. They had to mail , get on radio and get press a different way. They were making records different too. There were not files to make and protools. I think the talent then is more real and raw. Now and days there are auto tuners for singers. Sad. We have to now find ways to be clever in marketintg because anyone can stream themselves live. I believe anyone can get attention which makes the music industry sometimes seem souless.

Photo of Anne McCue

Anne McCue

Only that there are more of us now. I relate very strongly to Nancy and Ann Wilson. I have toured with them quite a bit and spent some fun times jamming with them and we are on the same page.

Susan Osborn

There are more women making a living as Musicians now I think. They are so inspiring to me.

Sara K.

The generations of women musicians varies so much. The younger ones now seem to be focusing more on dance routines and special effects than the actual songwriting. As a songwriter, I feel the songs themselves have really changed quite a bit with rap and hip hop. Videos really changed the art of music into performance and music being one thing. I come from a generation where singer/songwriters were just that. You take your instrument and go tour. Sit down and play. This generation seems to complicate music as an art form, at least in the singer/songwriter genre. It's hard to tell what's real and what's effects. So, as an older singer/songwriter, I feel a big difference between what I do and what the rap and hip hops are doing.

Maddy Prior, Steeleye Span

My daughter, Rose Kemp, is much more focussed and dedicated than I remember being. She works hard at her skills and is aware of the business aspects. But it's a much harder road for them now. When I began it was a much derided 'why don't you get a proper job' type career, therefore not heavy on competition, but now it is seen, mostly mistakenly, along with sport, as the way to riches.

Gia Ciambotti

I believe it is less intimidating now. Musicians, writers of music, singers, really just love the art form.. women have traditionally played a major role in the creation of music in America. The business of music is more open to women now.

Lisa Sanders

"From an Indie perspective.I see a difference in delivery of the music. the way younger women play their instruments.(Veronica May for instance)The way they express their music vocally too.Different than say Ferron who expresses her music mostly lyrically than musically. Their attitudes about music seems different to me too. I see a lot more women playing music out here in the world than ever before. They are not afraid of pursuing their dream. that's cool.

From a major perspective. You wouldn't see Carol King or Aretha or even Janis Joplin traipsing around in scantily clad clothing singing touch me baby.. While entertaining I don't think they would have done that."

Photo of Lynda Kay

Lynda Kay

The only differences that I can see between the generations of women musicians is the expression in the eyes and the feeling of the voice...there is a knowing in the later generations that can only come from years of experience.

Mandy Mercier

Yes, definitely. The younger generation of women are much more confident and take for granted that they can express themselves freely. When I was growing up, women were very much in a subservient role socially and although I was fiery and driven, I encountered obstacles including self-doubt and my family's intense disapproval, which made it hard at times to be as assertive (when I was younger) as I should have been.

Connie Todd, The Occasionals

I'm somewhat out of the local "scene," but I know a few female vocalists my age and also much younger, and I notice that the older ones who have been working all their lives have developed very good administrative skills and use agents to great advantage. The younger singers are all about writing their own music, which is a great development, it seems to me. But I must say, covering the old tunes is like throwing good pots--they're always lovely and always interesting, but sometimes they turn out to be truly exceptional. To be able to interpret composers like Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, and others is a delight and a privilege. And I'm constantly surprised that my voice is still really good--I thought it would have left me by now.

Photo of Janet Robin

Janet Robin

"Well, certainly it's gotten better for women in music, these days you see a lot more women out there playing and doing their own thing. Or, being hired as players in bands. When I started, it really was a novelty. When I was in my band in the 80's we had a major record deal (Polygram and Capitol), we were an all-girl band, (actually friends with some of The Runaways girls), and as we started promotion for our records, radio stations actually said to our faces that they could not add another band with a female singer. That their roster already had one (ala Pat Benatar or Heart) and that they only allowed for one female fronted band at a time on their playlist....Totally ridiculous, of course. We also had some guys come up after our shows and actually ask us if our ""boyfriends' were playing the instruments behind the curtain because ""girls can't play rock n' roll"" that was the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

Now, it's much better and the more women who get out there, learn and play their instrument proficiently, the better. When I got hired to play in Lindsey Buckingham's solo band, he specifically wanted a woman who could play guitar and sing background vocals. There were not very many at the audition, I can tell you that. He was extremely open to the idea and I'm sure all those years working with Stevie Nicks opened up his mind to even the concept of a women musician. People like Joni Mitchell, Heart, Runaways, Fanny, Suzi Quatro, Bonnie Raitt, even bassist Carol Kaye, all helped women get to where we are now. When there are even younger women players and musicians getting recognition now, I hope they remember where it originated from."
"Like I said above, I find that some of the younger women musicians may not know much of people like Joni Mitchell and Heart or even Bonnie Raitt. I have a few guitar students and I try to educate them. Fanny and The Runaways were some of the first all girl bands around, then came Go-Go's, Bangles, Girlschool from the UK, Vixen, (and my band, Precious Metal), during the glam rock days. We all knew each other, whether we were big and famous or not. It didn't matter, there was a comraderie. Now, there are girl bands everywhere, and a lot more girl musicians with companies making guitars for girls even- and really trying to promote playing an instrument to young girls. I think it's great. I just want to make sure that they know their history and know of some of these other women that came before. Even in the blues, there were incredible women guitarists such as Memphis Minnie and Sister Rosetta Thorpe. Most people don't even know who those people are, but for example, Memphis Minnie wrote ""When the levee breaks"" the song that Led Zeppelin made famous and basically doesn't give her any credit. She was also an amazing LEAD guitarist and her husband was the rhythm guitarist in the band. These are facts that not only women should know, but men too- and people of all ages.

Someday I wish to put on a show that features women guitarists and pay homage to women guitarists from the past and present."

Julie Christensen

I see that the younger ones now seem to have a lot of confidence and seem like they have an equitable relationship with their male counterparts. And the ones before me had it even harder than I did. But it probably still takes an iron will to get launched.

Texas Ladybugs

Well, I think it's mainly a matter of maturity. Maturity for women brings with it a comfort in who you are. You don't worry about what everybody might be thinking, you just play and sing what feels good to you. That generally is the best way to do it anyway. Younger women I find are more concerned about being perfect and doing what they think (right or wrong) their buddies want to hear. Mature singer/songwriters just do what they feel, which is generally the right thing.

Brandi Carlile

"I see the evidence of struggle when I remember the artists that influenced me who arent on the radio anymore or arent touring...bands broken up because they were tired of the fight or it was made impossible for them to make a living,While their male counter parts are considered ""legacy artists"" and flying around in private jets. I look at those women as the people that paved the way for girls like us,and we have a lightness to the way we walk in the world because someone before us made sure we could....Its important to remember that and to enjoy it because not to would be disrespect to the women that wanted us to. seeing loretta lynn,emmylou harris,and bonnie rait play a show is incredibly inspiring those women and many more are ten feet tall to me."

Photo of Cindy Cashdollar

Cindy Cashdollar

There's definately more female musicians in each generation...of course there's always been talented women players, it's just that as the years progressed, it became more acceptable and common to be able to do it for a living, casually or full time. The "a woman's place is in the home" mentality kept a lot held back for so long.

Franc Graham

yes! now it's about all kinds of other stuff and it's about being younger and younger. a lot of being a musician now is how you look -- and a lot of the work is more insipid in my opinion.

Photo of Aimee Bobruk

Aimee Bobruk

"No--we're all the same underneath. Maybe more than 50 years ago there was more social reservations. But since the 60's women have been liberated musically. You can't say younger girls musicians now are more radical or liberal cause look at girls like Patti Smith and Madonna (they came before us). If anything, like any musician regardless of sex, some younger musicians forget to focus on the music and focus more on the media/star/image factor."


Not really. I think women have to break molds, stereotypes, and fight for their equal footing in every generation - and in more fields than just music and music business.

Jenifer Jackson

the younger generation of female musicians seem a bit more business-oriented and pro-active. this may just be the personalities of the specific younger musicians i know & work with now. the changing business seems less structured, and therefore, more open to any gender.

Jessie Torrisi, Jessie Torrisi & the Please, Please Me

"Younger women are more fearless. But older women are tougher."

Jan Bell and The Maybelles

"During the Pro Choice Rally's in NYC in the mid 90's I grew tired of hearing women define themselves as a 'woman' artist etc. I stopped prefixing musician by 'woman/female' just because the artists are women. No one says ' And next an All male band! ' I try and keep a sense of humor about it all - sometimes I joke about producing a 'Man's Music Fest! All male bands on stage all day!"" Also, as a part time sound engineer the world does not automatically assume I don't know what I'm doing anymore - the way it did twenty years ago."
Yes. The younger women seem more fearless than ever. There are so many more examples of instrumental soloists than there used to be. It used to be hard to find a woman who could play upright bass, had her own truck and wrote her own songs. Now I know quite a few women like that. A lot more women hit the road on their own without having to rely on their boyfriend, or be the only girl/ 'chick singer' . But at the same time, it seems like they are not so concerned with politics or realize how much they are reaping the benefits of women who took to the streets in the 70's, 80's 90's....perhaps we have evolved past being didactic, or having to label ourselves politically/sexually. Maybe just getting out there and doing it, and believing in yourself is what we were fighting for all along?

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Kelley Ryan

I'm sure women today have more freedom (and, just as importantly, more confidence) to do and say what is in their hearts and on their minds. So, yes, I think women have a better time of expressing themselves now than in the past. This is a very good road to be on.

Christina Martin

"I believe that there are advantages and sometimes disadvantages. I think there is still an obsession with youth that can be a disadvantage to women, more so than men in the business. Depending on the record label or industry professional, there seems to be more interest in female artists that are in their early 20's and writing great songs. If you say you are 22 and people like your songs, they are even more impressed! If you say you are 30, and writing great songs, well its expected that you've at least had some life experience to contribute to the tunes. The idea being that if you catch them early, then there is a better chance you can make more money from them for longer. I don't want to bitch about it, because I have found a lot of support in the industry in Eastern Canada form both men and women, however, the question usually comes up at conferences or in label meeting rooms 'how old are you?'. That question makes me a bit irritated.

Even in my early 20's I did not pursue music full-time as a career because I thought I was too old! So I kept it as a hobby. Eventually, I was too depressed and miserable to care anymore, I just had to get out and take it all on!

I was inspired by great women in the business like Patti Griffin, EmmyLou Harris, Shaun Colvin, Lucinda Williams... these women are older and quite successful.... not only that they are incredible singer-songwriters who have built long-term careers for themselves. The older I get, the more I understand the importance of doing what you love, despite financial or cultural circumstances. Its challenging, but I feel lucky to be in a place in the world where I can do this. "

Kat Edmonson

Yes, absolutely! Women no longer play the single role of looking pretty and singing pretty in between killin' solos played by men. Now, you'll find women playing killer solos on guitar, drums, sax, bass... this is a recent thing! Also, women feel empowered these days to emote more- to sound angry; sound ugly if they want to; to display things that were once considered inappropriate and unattractive coming from a woman.

Jess Klein

I've coached a few younger women on stage performance stuff and been totally blown away by their confidence and their willingness to put themselves out there. I think it's taken me a long time to really own what I do as a performer. So it's good to see young gals stepping up and not being afraid.

Shelley Short

Yes. It seems like instaed of sort of "fititng in with the dudes" women are becoming more comfortable with beong women, although there is still a strong stereotype there.

Molly Neuman

I'm not quite sure.

Photo of Betse Ellis - The Wilders

Betse Ellis - The Wilders

Not sure I do. Memphis Minnie was an incredibly strong player and singer. So is Joan Jett. But Billie Holiday was perhaps a sweeter style and overtly feminine performer. So is Joanna Newsom.

Photo of Cathi Walkup

Cathi Walkup

I would certainly hope so. Each generation brings their own take to every aspect of their generation and that, in my opinion, is as it should be. I do hope that they would have respect for and interest in what came before them and I would also hope the same for my generation in dealing with the generations who come after. Teachers should not only teach but also learn from the students as well.

Marilyn Harris

Younger women ARE being more accepted in the musical workplace, altho it's still an uphill battle to be recognized and hired. Younger musicians in general are not as capable or well-schooled as older, more experienced musicians, and this is as true for women as for men. Ageism is hitting my female colleagues MUCH worse than my male musician friends.

Stephanie O'Keefe

Yes - the younger women who play my instrument are freer to BE women. And the younger men in the business are accustomed to seeing women in the workplace.

Judy Chamberlain

Only in that today's younger women can get away with substituting looks for talent, which may not have been the case in past generations. Once upon a time, you had to have looks AND talent.

Cat Conner

Yes, many of the new younger singers, sing with a nasal tone. I think it all started with Michael Jackson. Even many jazz singers have that tone.

Photo of Ayelet Rose Gottlieb

Ayelet Rose Gottlieb

it's hard for me to say. what i see is that there definitely seem to be more women musicians than there used to be, which is GREAT. seems to me, as the woman's "roles" in society keep evolving and changing, so does the dynamic in the music scene, which has always been predominantly male.

Photo of Carol Heffler, Carol Heffler Trio or Quartet

Carol Heffler, Carol Heffler Trio or Quartet

I don't know enough younger musicians to say.

Alexandra Frederick

Not really. I think these days women are less afraid to appear "tough" in the music arena, but I think the fact is that underneath we always were. However, maybe things have changed a bit, because when I was playing bass in London many years ago, I used to post ads on the wall of the music shop in Picadilly for my services, signed "Alex" and guys used to call and ask for the bass player and when they heard a female voice would sound confused and hang up. I know some young people are "gender-cliquey" but hopefully that wouldn't happen so much now.

Laurie Krauz

I don't get to work with a lot of young artists so don't really feel qualifed to answer this.

Photo of Andrea Wolper

Andrea Wolper

I think so. For one thing, more and more women instrumentalists are emerging within the newer generations, and I believe the younger men are more accustomed to interacting as equals in musical settings with women. While most singers in my genres historically didn't go to music school (college and post-grad), now many do. I have very mixed feelings about the impact of advanced music education in academic settings, but that's another conversation; one benefit, I believe, is that the women who attend music school probably start out on a more equal footing with the men and, as above, women and men are more used to interacting and thinking of one another as colleagues.

Mary Foster Conklin

My last recording was a tribute to the California composer/pianist Matt Dennis. I had many long chats with his widow, Virginia Maxey Dennis, who had been a big band singer with Tony Pastor and Mel Torme. It was amazing how little had changed as far as being a female singer.

Lisa Otey

"Women in general are more respected today then they were 100 years ago. In the beginning of jazz and blues, women had to turn tricks sometimes to make sure their rent was paid. Racism, gender bias and economic oppression has always been an issue for women. Of course, Black Americans have had a terrible time no matter what their gender.

Women I know who are generations older than me weren't able to make their living just with music. They were also teachers and nurses. I am grateful that I have been lucky in that way.

In the future, I'd like to see less gender bias in the industry so we never have one token female on the roster. Those decisions perpetuate the economic imbalance. If only one woman can be featured on a festival, the men will obviously have an easier time making a living."

Amy Cervini

I see differences in different generations of musicians in general. In the same way that there are bitter women in the jazz industry there are bitter men. They may have different reasons for being bitter but...bitter is bitter. There are just some people out there who are more inspiring than others. I haven't seen that being directly related to one's sex. That being said...I have heard from countless women musicians that they've had a much harder time in the industry. That they are discounted and the fact that they are a woman has hindered them. I think that the jazz industry is making strides in accepting women as equal players on the scene but am still seeing that most women make it as leaders or not at all. There are exceptions of course but that seems to be the trend. I love going to see Darcy James Argue's Secret Society because it feel like highschool -- there are so many women in that band. And it's not a big deal. That's the best part.

Photo of Amanda Monaco

Amanda Monaco

It just seems that the younger generations have more women jazz musicians, which is great news.

Diane Moser, Diane Moser's Composers Big Band, Diane Moser Quintet

"Absolutely again. Those of us who are 50 and older remember coming up at a time when women were not encouraged to be in the band, or even to study music seriously. The young women who are going in a jazz program at a college today-still too few-are really making their own way. We had a lot of rules to follow-even down to how we had to dress. Young women today have their own style on every level-music-clothes-politics-relationships-they have more freedom than we did. Although, I will still say, they usually have to be the leader of the band-they're not called to be ""side-women"" as much as men are."

Amy Camie

All of my music teachers (in St. Louis and at Indiana University) have been older, gracious, 'ladies' who encouraged compassionate support and group experiences that helped each of their students grow. Several years ago, when I moved to a different city, I was surprised at the competitiveness and downright primal territorial protectiveness that each musician had for their 'turf'...and many of them were my age. I felt their uncertainty and fear under the surface of their 'masks' and, thanks to my husband's work situation, eventually moved back home to St. Louis. Was the uncertainty generational? I believe that there are a lot of factors that play into generational differences, not just with musicians but with people in general. I do believe that many musicians today view 'the industry' and 'professional musicians' from very different eyes...just as young football and baseball players view their sport. For my teachers, they played because they loved it, it came from their heart and they shared their gifts with their students. Today, many musicians play for the buck and market to the masses...music is 'produced' rather than 'created' and the outcome is a completely different experience for the listener. It's my hope and dream that all musicians remember the true value and purpose of their gift...for me, my music is the vibration of love that touches the soul.

Dori Levine

Yes. There are more Jazz programs available today than in the past and singers in particular are being better trained as musicians.

Anita Brown, Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra

"I know my mother, Phyllis Terrazzano Brown studied with Lennie Tristano right along side of my father, Ted Brown, Warne Marsh, Lee Konitz, Sal Mosca and on the scene with he close friend Sheila Jordan. I know that few women chose to put themselves out there, particularly as instrumentalists. Perhaps they were accustomed to allowing the men their ""space,"" I don't know. It has seemed to me that my mother's generation seems to maintain a ""don't make any waves"" perspective, while I can't seem to hold my tongue when I see something as wrong.

I also know that my 25 year old, brilliant writing student, who also plays alto and flut, experiences an steady ""attitude"" from her male peers and that the men still make snide locker room comments amongst themselves about their female peers. She has told me about overhearing such comments from musicians who I consider my peers, not hers. While this sort of thing bothers her personally, this specific behavior doesn't phase me much. It's the stuff I mentioned before that makes the social aspect of following one's calling as a woman in music, specifically jazz, a challenging endeavor.

I probably said too much..."

Jan Leder

Yes, I think there are many more opportunities with each generation.

Lisa Sokolov

Not really. You had Laura Nyro, Betty Carter. These were powerful woman, who I believe because of their gender wereignored or scorned by the press far more than their male counterparts.

Sharman Duran

It used to be. When I was young the message I got was that women musicians (other than vocalists) were a novelty, and not always a welcome one, that jazz was a language spoken among men and that women were outsiders. In the last 20 years or so solid women jazz musicians have become more visible and attitudes have changed for the better.

Cady Finlayson

I see that in rock it is much more common now to have women in the band, and also organizations such as GoGirlsmusic and "Women in Music" that are there to support women in music.

Photo of Jane Stuart

Jane Stuart

I think it's a little different for singers verses instrumentalists. Generally, more so in the past than now,female musicians were thought to be lesser than males. The answer in general is, yes, woman being downgraded, but it's getting better. There are many woman musicians that are so incredibly talented, skilled, wonderful, that no one could deny it. What I'm trying to say is that it's changing and for the good. I work with, sing with many female musicians,not BECAUSE they are female, but because they are great musicians. As a vocalist, there are a whole bunch of other stereotypes to overcome. Most of all the premise of being dumb. But I don't think male vocalists are considered to be any different. Perhaps the vocalists have it in reverse.
Yes. The younger musicians and singers don't seem to have any notions of the stereotypes. Ah! sweet bliss.

Submitted Anonymously

Yes. The younger generation seems to be more confident. They also perhaps have a false sense of equality. In terms of performers, younger musicians who are women seem to have to market themselves in a more overtly sexual manner.

Photo of Mary Louise Knutson

Mary Louise Knutson

I see that there are more women in the field of jazz today, though the numbers are still amazingly low.

Christiana Drapkin Jazz Group

Not that I'm aware of. I think, women always had to be fighters in the entertainment world. But I also experience a deeper sense of sharing and mutual support amont women musicians.

Jessie Reagen Mann

Some, not all. Younger women seem to be more 'hip' or into the idea that they don't need to pigeon hole themselves in one area. (ie orchestra job)

Catherine Dupuis

Yes, my generation has much more opportunity than the generations behind me. For those younger than I am, the opportunities are even more endless. Having jazz taught in universities and conservatories now makes it more accessible for women; the old boys' network spent alot of energy keeping women out of the game, only a few really talented ones could get thru, unless they were vocalists. Male musicians still rarely believe that vocalists are musicians.

Photo of Nicole Pasternak

Nicole Pasternak

No, apart from social and racial discrimination that weighed heavily on earlier generations I don't really see a difference in the generations of women musicians themselves. Lil Hardin (Louis Armstrong's wife) just did her thing. Mary Lou Williams was a pioneer in jazz; she answered the call to music and left a legacy behind. The same can be said for artists like Nina Simone and Shirley Horn. Today you have bands like the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Diva (led by Shari Maricle) and new artists like Anat Cohen who are here to stay. There are so many more amazing women artists: Carla Bley, Tokiko Akiyoshi, Anita Brown, the list goes on and on. I think there is more a common thread between these generations, than differences.

Gale Cruz

Yes, but way to long to get into. I will say some better and some not.

Hailey Wojcik

Yes, although I must admit I'm pretty insulated in a world of fellow musicians my own age. But I do think girls who are in high school now, seeing people like MIA and St. Vincent and Marnie Stern... it will hopefully have an effect on them. It is less ghettoized now than it was in the Riot Grrrl days.

Amy London

"As a female vocalist, I am probably in the most expected role for women in the music world. I see many of my friends who are female instrumentalists, and I know that some of their struggles have been different than mine. Trying to make it in a 'man's world,' and jazz is that, is definitely hardest for female instrumentalists. As a jazz educator at the New School BFA program in NYC for more than 25 years, I have seen many female instrumentalist students gain more and more appreciation and respect, and graduate into successful careers. It is definitely more commonplace to see female players now than it was twenty years ago.

As a jazz educator, I have been on the warpath for 25 years to conquer the 'chick singer mentality'. When I arrived in NYC as a very young singer, thanks to my piano and choral singing background, my musicianship skills were at a very high level, and I immediately gained respect on the bandstand from my fellow male bandmates, and fellow singers as well. On the same hand, I sometimes observed these same very talented and highly regarded musicians frown upon other female vocalists who didn't have musicianship skills, and treat them with disrespect because of their lack of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. It was at this point that I decided to become a jazz educator, in order to help other singers, both male and female, prepare themselves for lives as respected professionals. I have taught hundreds of singers by now.

I am also the mother of two tweenaged girls, 12 and 14 years old. I always wanted to marry and have children and make a home, and this has certainly eaten into my career, for many years, but I don't regret a second of it. It has definitely taken longer for me to achieve some of my goals, such as a record deal, than other people, but I have also lived a balanced life, and all of life's experiences feed into one's art. Now that my children are older and gaining independence, I am enjoying a newfound freedom and a little more time to pursue my career. It has been a long haul, though! My husband is also a jazz musician and educator, renowned jazz guitarist Roni Ben-Hur. The juggling act of two freelance artists trying to both 'make it' and raise a family can sometimes be daunting."
"Absolutely! Speaking for myself, my parents were very 1950's/60's, kind of the Jewish version of Mad Men, minus the affairs. My Dad was a businessman, and my Mom was a real character, a talented pianist and actress, but as a role model was that of the happy housewife, who lived to take care of other people, so I have struggled all of my adult life to truly feel like a professional, and at times I tend to hide in my house, cook dinner and decorate a little bit too much!

For at least the last ten years of teaching, I see young women raised by Baby Boomer moms, the first results of the feminist movement, who had to struggle and make their way in the business and working world, and created a new role model for their daughters. So many of these young women have no problem with assertiveness or taking care of business. And certainly, they do not place accomodating others as their priority in life as I was raised to do."

Elli Fordyce, The Elli Fordyce Jazz Quartet

There is often more influence on jazz vocal styles of R&B, gospel and pop in various singers which is often generational. There is more imitation the younger the vocalist is, due to the vocalist being farther from the point of the original creativity, whereas I was listening on the radio as a teenager to the new records of singers I still most admire all these years later.

Libby York

Not sure things have improved all that much.Still a tough business for a woman.

Holli Ross, String Of Pearls

I can't really say how it was when all the "chirps" were working in the 40's and 50's. I have found that the singers that I have come to know and who have become my peers, are very open, welcoming, and generous with their "stuff" meaning that they'll lay a tune on you if you ask for a copy, they'll share some valuable knowledge about something or someone if they think they can help, and they show their support for one another. The singers I've meet from older generations have also been very supportive and generous with their mentoring or they let you sit in. Every now and again you come up against someone who is not open or receptive but I think that's just a personality thing and indigenous to all professions. I believe we're all a team, the team of jazz.

Teri Roiger

I know in the early days women wrote a lot of songs. Men were away at war and there were all-female bands. Women have always written great blues tunes, starting way back in the beginning. I feel there is much less of a gap now between men and women musicians. I am happy for this time, and I am now beginning to nurture my piano playing. For a long time I would just sing and not play, but now I am playing more and more, and am determined to fulfill my deep desire to be a jazz piano player as well as a singer. This is just the way things have evolved for me. I have always been encouraged in my piano playing (as well as singing) by such jazz luminaries as Jack DeJohnette and most other people who hear me play.

Regina Harris Baiocchi

Some younger musicians seem to have less stringent work ethics.

Judy Niemack

due to being a woman. And in the last 20 years I've seen a big change taking place in jazz big bands. Women don't have the same doubts and fears that were there in my generation, they're educated (thanks to programs at the university level which are now available, because of teachers like me who developed them), and many more are playing sax, drums, trumpet (Ingrid Jensen is a great role model) and the traditionally male instruments. In the vocal jazz world the development of singers as composers and improvisers is also strong. It's exciting!

Photo of Judi Silvano

Judi Silvano

Yes, i do see differences. The level of support that women musicians give to each other has been much greater, as there are more and more young women coming into the field. In previous generations, there were much fewer women musicians that were able to overcome the roadblocks to being a professional player. Since there was a lack of support and agreement in society and in families that the women should or even could be professional musicians of a serious sort, most of the jobs available to womenrequired them to dress and act as show-girls, for instance. Or they had to play in an all-women novelty band. That is still true to some extent today, but it is starting to change in that you see many women playing in mixed male and female bands. Yay!

Photo of Jody Sandhaus

Jody Sandhaus

Yes, I think the younger women are better educated.

Submitted Anonymously

I am not sure. I do think that society had much more of an interest in classical music and so there were more opportunities for singers to get heard and grow over time. Certainly there was more music education in the schools 40+ years ago.

Cassandra Douglas

In my profession I would have to say no. The world of music that I live in is based in old traditions that continue to recycle themselves. It's rather like Comedia dell'Arte's characters where the archetypes are recreated in a different medium. They are still the same personalities but with a different setting. The generations of musicians in opera have not changed much. We've only been updated with better access to resources and connections with other people. Otherwise it's all the same.

Cristie Strongman

Yes. In classical music I think women opera singers had less school training and got more of their knowledge at home and with private teachers. I think now it's sort of a mass comsumtion type of thing of turning out generic material in classical music because it lacks individuality and the attention that one teacher would give a person, now it's multiple students per one teacher and not enough time to perform and get the real experience classical singers need.

Photo of Marni Nixon

Marni Nixon

All of the above are similiaities and differences to some people. I think you mean to ask, if "younger" people are more aware of the depth and position of themselves in the bigger scheme and broader scope of things, and are aware of the past and where they fit into it. Of course if one is to be successful one has to know the past, good and bad, to be entiirely yourself and unique. Otherwise one can dillude onsself into thinking you are unique, when its been done and said long ago and maybe by better people...maybe not, in which case be AWARE of it all and where you stand in the midst of it, creatively and actively.

Laurie Rogers

There were virtually no female conductors until recently, led by the late Sarah Caldwell. The Berlin Philharmonic until relatively recently was all-male. Now "blind" orchestra auditions have taken away gender as a hiring issue. For opera singers, size is back to being an issue again. The Fat Lady doesn't get as many jobs as the buff one, thanks in part to the HD broadcasts that now show every last detail. You have people like Miuccia Prada designing opera costumes for svelte figures; never mind how those figures can actually sing.

Photo of Michelle Trovato

Michelle Trovato

The most successful female opera singers look like Hollywood stars. Even a video I watched recently of a mid-90s Pavarotti and Friends concert featured a rather unattractive woman in the role of Musetta in La Boheme. Today, that role is only sung by the most beautiful of sopranos.

Jennifer Peterson, operamission

Perhaps. No specific examples in my experience.

Deborah Karpel

I think women musicians are being trusted more than before. But it's still an uphill climb, particularly in jazz.

Sharon Azrieli

"well of course the great 50's was the era of the tru diva who didn't have to worry about being perceived as a diva! Maria Callas Renata Tebaldi etc etc There were at least 12 great divas up until the 80's even Now there are only 2 or 3 I think the recroding industry is to blame, as they have cut back on new recordings and rely on reissuing old an dlive recordings it is harder to get a recordnign and harder to be made into a star"

Submitted Anonymously

Yes. Many more doors open to them. They have more role models and less expectation that they 'can't' play whatever instrument - fill in the blank

Julie Rohwein

In my area, woman are still far less common than men. But the younger women I meet in composition are much less prone to talk about themselves as "women composers". At least until they have a child -- being a mother and a composer is a whole different ball of wax.

Sunny Zank

Yes, the young women move around even more freely than my generation did.

Susan Borwick

Love the young adults nowadays. We older folks seem to them to have been "the pioneers." Maybe we are.

Susan Cohn Lackman

The younger musicians are rarely in to melody, harmony, and communication. There's a lot of electronic and pseudo-electronic effects.

Elizabeth Vrenios

The women musicians in this generation are better trained and more savvy about the business of music.

Anna Maria Manalo

Yes, the 'gap' is closing

Photo of Jennifer Higdon

Jennifer Higdon

yes...I think it has been affected by the generation that raised each group. I've never encountered a family member who ever said I couldn't be a freelance composer.

Lana Mountford

Only small difference -- some younger women just starting school seem to assume they can bypass all the hard work and be a "star" immediately (a la "American Idol"). The business doesn't exactly work the way they want it to work.


Yes. The younger generation knows less about how hard it was for the older generation to break into symphony circles. It wasn't too long ago that the Berlin philharmonic had no women in it--not because women couldn't play but because women weren't allowed. The younger generation doesn't remember that time and I barely remember it.

Terri Sandys

Not among the strongest performers.

Emma Lou Diemer

Yes. Women composers a bit more accepted now, as are women conductors. Not too much of a change with women performers--much earlier accepted.

Judith Shatin

I think there are many more role models for younger women, and much more acceptance of women as musicians now.

J. Michele Edwards

Yes, today many women seem to think they will be treated equally with men and that decisions will be made on just they skill/talent/achievement, but unfortunately I do not think that is yet the case. Progress and more opportunities for women has occurred during my lifetime. Still bias is present, virtually everywhere.

Jenn Cristy

Women in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s seemed much more empowered, especially the 70s! They were also much more respected for their talents rather than their bodies. Women have always pushed a sexual edge, so I guess the argument can swing either way. But, I think women today take it to a whole new level by showing everything they've got physically and fake their way through the actual vocal/musicianship side of things. With pitch correctors and such, it feels as if a majority of the female artists out there are focused on image more than the art of music. Back in the day it was about the art, sweat, tears, and heart of the show/song.

Nicole J. McPherson

I think I have more opportunities to become successful if I take advantage of the opportunities and that more women are being rewarded for their work.

Beth Anderson

Yes. The young ones are very optimistic and unaware of barriers. The older ones remember the past vividly and see the barriers quite clearly.

Photo of Vivian Adelberg Rudow

Vivian Adelberg Rudow

"Yes. We old timers are much more timid. The newer generations are much more self assured and aggressive. I LOVE to be with them!

I learn from the younger women!"

Pro Arte String Quartet

"definitely women in the arts are today equal the generation before me had much to ignore different countries lag behind in equality - (Austria a few years ago)"

Gabriela Lena Frank

Yes -- There is much less fear nowadays among the younger women, which is awesome. The generation of women before me said the same thing about my generation.

Sarah Mattox

Yes and no. To succeed in the field, there are still some essential qualities that trancend generation. An adaptable personality and a willingness to work quickly and intimately with relative strangers, as well as the need to be someone who travels well, makes for certain commonalities. In the opera world, I'm fortunate to work with older established artists, as well as up and coming singers. I find I learn a great deal from both.

Barbara Case, Free Range Chix

"There are more women bravely pursuing musical careers,as composers, conductors and recording artists, in part because of support organizations like the International Alliance For Women in Music, and, in spite of (unequal) domestic expectations. We only have to be brave because of discrimination and discouragement. I believe the most successful financially are the ones controlling their careers. "

Anna Rubin

Young classical women composers seem to be more at ease and don't assume their work is not valid though this can vary widely from institution to institution.

Jennifer Elowitch, Portland Chamber Music Festival

There has been a huge change in orchestral settings -- MANY more women than there used to be, particularly violinists. In fact, probably more women than men violinists in orchestras today.

Hasu Patel

Yes, I am from India and as I am playing Sitar in a vocal style where sitar replicated human voice which was not present 30+ years.


Women must be cute, charming, drink with the boys, hang with the boys, make crude jokes, and are very competitive with each other.

Joanna Messer, Madison Symphony Orchestra (WI), Wisconsin Philharmonic, International Chamber Artists (Chicago)

Yes. I am well aware that I am standing on the shoulders of giants. I grew up in the post-Title IX era, and there is much that I can take for granted that my mother's generation and my grandmother's generation could not. They endured relentless sexism from the podium, from colleagues within the orchestra, and from audiences and patrons as well. I have benefited from the strides made to make audition processes fair and arbitrary (screens between the committee and the applicant, for example). This can be a more global generalization about the difference between my generation and my mother's generation, however, so your mileage may vary.

Elena Ruehr

Yes. Fewer young women are going into classical composing, and are instead going into popular music. Those women who go into classical music and are younger than I am are more confident and less afraid of being seen as pushy. Women older than I am who are in the business have a tendency to be rewarded more for their administrative abilities than their musicianship.

Oberta Stephen, classical musician

Yes. There are more opportunities for performances of composer's music. I notice in Western Canada that women composer's music is chosen just as often as men's for the limited performances available.

Linda Swope

I am not sure. I am sure the basic social aspects are the same - better for some, not as good for others, depending on their environments. However, as far as the way music influences women and what they write and perform, well, that changes with the times, and probably always has. Times change, and musical tastes and styles change with it. Therefore I am not sure if things are different this generation than they were from the last generation.

Marcia Bellamy

Women have made huge in-roads in European orchestras where they once only appeared as harpists or second violins.

Rosa Avila

Yeah I guess so ..... maybe 20 or 30 years ago , we maybe got questioned , but not now at all .... And I guess we are still a minority , especially in terms of playing drums.

Lisa Lorenzino

"Yes and no. I saw Marian McPartland (spelling?) talk about being a woman in jazz at a semi-professional jazz camp on the West Coast one year. It was a panel discussion about women in jazz. Frankly, I found the entire thing to be very very interesting. She said something profound, that really affected me positively. The day that we don't need forums for women in jazz is the day that we have achieved equality. Also, she said that the music speaks for itself. I agree with this. That said, I have not felt discriminated against in the field. I have spent 15 years of my life also as a high school band conductor, often considered to be a male oriented profession. The men I worked with were wonderful. I think however that the previous generation of female musicians set the groundwork for me regarding this zone of comfort however and I thank them for this. Each generation, it gets easier; that said gender biases I believe still do exist. I am thrilled however to see more orchestra conductors on the podium who are female. This is excellent.

The young girls today are so much stronger and sure of themselves. I find the gender issues getting smaller each year. I am proud of the female jazz musicians at our school and the women working in our community. That said, I find the men, in general as well, excellent to work with. As a teacher, I love educating other and anything that I can do to educate about gender equality and music, be it through my classes or through my writing, I feel is important. "

Sarah Stiles

I think there are definite differences, as there are always differences between generations. As for women in particular, I'm not sure what the differences are yet.

Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio

I think that it's increasingly easier for women now than it was 2 generations ago. When my Dad joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra, there was only 1 women in the orchestra. That was difficult, I'm sure.

Photo of Hsiao-Lan Wang

Hsiao-Lan Wang

The older generation are more aware of the difficulties women faced in the male-dominated classical music field. The younger generation are less aware of the difficulties, possibly because situation is indeed getting better. But if you look at the number of active female composers, there is still a large gap between male and female numbers.

Amy Zigler

I think my generation is blessed with the ability to assume that we'll be able to succeed if we work hard, whereas previous generations fought for acceptance in music programs and concert halls.

Linda Dusman

In general, I think women believe in their 20's that there is no problem with sexism in music. As they get older, and particularly if they have children, they begin to see lots of sexism.

Cathy Wilde, Cloigheann & Your Irish Pocket Companion, Three Scones of Boxty

"Yes and no. I mean, record companies have always pandered to the masses with certain ""prefab models"" of singers and performers, but there have also always been independent female musicians as long as I can remember, in virtually any genre I can think of. In any generation women have had to be brave and put themselves out there which sometimes requires ""not fitting in,"" but if they love the music enough and can't live without writing, singing, or performing it, then they find a way.

I think the younger generation has more opportunities now, somehow, and that younger women (at least singer/songwriter types) are a little more readily accepted. After all, it's now a known fact there's a VERY healthy market for what they do! I also think girls today are being raised to have a little more faith and confidence in themselves than my generation was. They seem to trust their abilities and creativity much more than we ever allowed ourselves to. Girls who daydreamed and wrote weird poems didn't have very good shots at marriage.

But again, I'm in a strange niche so have a little salt with that thought."

Michelle May of Musique Noire

No, I think each generation of women musicians are striving for the same goal. We all want our unique voice to be heard.

Photo of Laura Schwendinger

Laura Schwendinger

Not really, although many younger women don't know yet the obstacles which they will face in the business.

Photo of Geri Allen

Geri Allen

"Yes, this present generation is in many ways dominating the field creatively. And women in the industry are also some of the most important movers and shakers, There is however much more room for improvement."

Photo of Clare Shore

Clare Shore

Yes. The generation before me "had it really rough" and began breaking ground. There were few women that were receiving advanced degrees in music. My generation had it a bit easier; I am the second woman to earn a doctoral degree in composition from Juilliard; the first was Ellen Zwilich. There are many more women writing music these days, and many more are earning advanced degrees. The quality of the music is amazing.

Submitted Anonymously

it's much easier for younger women to enter into composition now

JoVia Armstrong

No, we all are pretty cool.

Photo of Kate Vincent, Artistic Director of Firebird Ensemble

Kate Vincent, Artistic Director of Firebird Ensemble

Perhaps younger generations of women are more ambitious in general than they once were. I see more women taking entrepreneurial roles in the arts now than before. It is also possible that I notice it more than I did previously, because I am now in one of these roles myself.

Eva Kendrick, Anne's Cordial

I wasn't exposed to many young female composers my own age when I was growing up, and I believe it's a lot easier to belong to a network of composers these days. When I was an undergraduate, I was the only woman I knew who wrote music in a department of about 60. As a graduate student, I was pleased to see that there were almost an even number of graduate female and male composers. However, i went back to speak at the school three years after I graduated and discovered there was only one female composer and about 15 men. That was disappointing.

Sibylle Johner, Damocles Trio

where I teach, the older women musicians all stayed single and devoted themselves exclusively to music. Younger women seem to want to combine a more rich private life and a life in music.

Roma Calatayud-Stocks

"Not sure, although I think that one must be perseverant in our goals if we want to accomplish them."

Photo of Dena El Saffar, Salaam

Dena El Saffar, Salaam

Not really. Music performance gives women confidence. If I look back through the years, I can think of many confident, competent women who were making music as a profession, both in this country and in the Middle East.

Beth Nelson, aka Johanna Volkert-Nelson

I would imagine the previous generation of women musicians was more geared toward teaching than performing, Luckily, as times goes on, there are more opportunities for women to be performers as well. (e.g. Vienna Philharmonic!)

Andrienne Wilson

There are some younger musicians that are wonderful, but mostly I do not see the level of maturity that is really the cornerstone of great Jazz. The majority of the performances are quite derivative, and in Jazz that is very sad indeed. I'm in a weird age range. There were no videos when I was younger and quite cute. Now that I am the more mature Jazz Mama the look is what is important. There is a whole generation of us who had the criterion change right around us as we became very fluid at our art. There is a wellspring of great music coming out of us, but very few ways to get it out to the public at large. Hopefully the internet will change that, but Jazz is a little more problematic than Pop and R&B. The younger people, who don't listen to Jazz, are more adept at accepting music from alternate sources. The generally older Jazz audience is not as open to new ways of hearing music, and don't find their way to music unless it is getting a lot of radio play. These problems are endemic in Jazz, however, and are not limited to women. The focus on looks is definately a female problem. The fact of the matter is that if Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgeral were coming up right now they wouldn't have a snow ball's chance in hell. They weren't cute enough.

Carla Cook

The generation of women before us, paved a smoother road, making this career choice easier than they had it.

Wendy Evans, Elgin Symphony

Not so much, although I think there are many more women than there were a generation ago.

Amy Rhodes

Not particularly. Young women that I work with don't act like I did when I was their age, they are more like I am now. They are very business-like, more mature.

Lucille Field IAWM

If young women will admit their feminism, they will make more progress. I see some movement.

Photo of Alisa Ohri

Alisa Ohri

yes and no. ... yes we live in a more "modern" age. but, women are still faced with sexist challenges and gender biases. sometimes it just feels like we have "more freedom/rights" to march in the same place.

Rika Seko

have not noticed.

Carol Lahti, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Lyra String Quartet, ESQ (the Elgin Symphony Quartet)

I see some subtle differences, but those may be attributed to the attitudes of others, not the women themselves. My mother was a member of the Houston Symphony Orchestra for three seasons before resigning to move back north, get married and start a family. I'm not sure I (and my female colleagues) would make that same choice.

Sally Reid

I think younger women musicians, including composers, do not fully understand the history and so do not appreciate how different things are now than from when I was a young musician. Those were the days when a woman's only choices were limited to becoming a teacher, a nurse or a secretary. There are still orchestras that exclude women performers (for all practical purposes) and women conductors often still receive more press about what they wear than about their music.

AnnMarie Sandy

Public images have changed, levels of musicianship and skills have changed, and sexual imagery is more prominent.

Jennifer O'Connor

I think it has gotten a bit easier for younger women musicians to make their way in the industry because I think there are more opportunities for women. But I think women of all generations still face sexism in the way they are marketed and promoted.

Elizabeth R Austin

Yes, gloriously so!


Yes, it is more accepted now and woman have embraced technology now more than ever

Kelly Irene Corson, The Art Of Shooting

I'd say yes, but I see so many styles whirl back around and become en vogue again that I can't honestly say that I've noticed alot of truth in that.

Kathy Leisen "Glass Rock"

I don't have any direct experience with that.

Alex Marvar, Common Prayer

Marketing is a big difference. A marketing approach (twitter, facebook, blogs, etc.). That may be age more than gender. I bet there is a difference in booking—I will have to remember to ask some friends about it.

Photo of Leslie Keffer

Leslie Keffer

I've never really thought abou it. The woman older and younger than me all treat me the same with love and support. We look out for each other on may different levels.

Sabrina Pena Young

I think Gen Xers and Ys are less likely to abandon balancing the family and making some concessions for having a life outside of music. In other words, having a family is no longer considered a weakness.

Automatic Loveletter

Yes. I think originality and aw factor have decreased. Since women like Janis,Stevie,Ann and Nancy Wilson,Joan Jett,Pat Benatar,Sheryl Crow,Alanis,Jewel,Tori Amos, just to name a few..I feel copy-catting has increased and the general skill level to be a star these days is made up for in auto tune,theatrics,a poppy hit and how much money your label is willing to put behind you.


Yes I do see differences between generations of women musicians. When I think back on the pieces I studied while taking classical piano, I cannot remember studying one female musician's work. Now, I am pleasantly surprised when I go to concerts and see all female orchestras, songwriters, bands, and conductors.

Photo of Alicia Jo Rabins, Girls in Trouble

Alicia Jo Rabins, Girls in Trouble

Hard to say. I'm glad there's more intellectual and compositional presence of women now - still not enough, but more - as opposed to just vocalists or pop songwriters.

Jessie, Public Radio

In some ways I do, like there are definitely way more women in the music industry than there were several generations ago. I also know for a lot of women to "make it" they are given some pretty strict rules from their labels or managers so they can "sell the artist" better. For instance the industry wants thin, attractive, single women. I guess this applies to men as well, but I feel like the talent of a woman can get overlooked by trying to make her look like a pop star - to sell her as a sex image. I don't necessarily feel like women had to jump through these kinds of hoops to have success in the 60's and 70's.

Jude Johnstone

If I understand the question, I would say that older female musicians like Bonnie Raitt and those that came before her, who may have had to work very hard to achieve prominence in a more male dominated musical era, have helped me to understand the important place I hold as a member of a very fortunate group of women who have been able to carve out a living making music. Myself, more as a songwriter than a recording artist. But that all the possibilities have been available to me, I am very aware of and grateful for. I think that younger artists may take that for granted a little more, but that is just evident of how far we've really come!

Cynthia G. Mason

"See above.


Betty Widerski, Ginger Ibex, Las Aboricuás, The Gobshites

Since I missed being an active musician in my 20s and 30s, I don't know that I can evaluate younger women now.

Cat Hartwell

I think that it is way easier to be a female musician/performer today than it was even ten or fifteen years ago. There are a lot of ballsy women singers, guitarists, drummers, bassists, etc that have paved the way for girls today and we have a lot of thanks to give for that. I think of ladies from Bessie Smith to Kim Deal and Kim Gordon.


I do, I see the differences in the way we perform, what we talk about, our dress, everything. We're actually circling back around and doing the same thing that we used to do in the 60s and the 70s, certain artist are recreating, which i feel is fun, just has to be done correctly.

Rene' Ormae-Jarmer, Here Comes Everybody

Definitely. In the 70's and 80's ya gotta remember that only recently the ERA movement happened and women could finally vote. So females were encouraged to branch out and be more brave. Burning bras was only the first step. Women in the 80's and beyond had to constantly challenge the norm. I guess we could technically go much farther back of course, but women as musicians are definitely having more opportunities to get good and get heard. But true musicianship isn't limited to gender. If you have the chops, you have the chops.

Kip McCLoud in Lucky 57

"WOW - yes! It's a lot more accpetable now for a woman to be more than just a singer in the band.

However - some things never change. The music business is eternally SEXIST!"

Photo of Kay Stanton, Casper & the Cookies, Supercluster

Kay Stanton, Casper & the Cookies, Supercluster

Yes, though I see many more similarities. I am fortunate enough to play in one band with a woman 15 years my elder, and another with a woman who is 15 years younger than me! The older female musicians I've known seem to be a little more laid back. They aren't as concerned if a man helps out with things. There's a different kind of confidence. Younger women often seem to be a little more aggresive, not necessarily musically, but to prove their worth as good musicians. I definitely fall somewhere in the middle. My age is a good one to be in rock and roll.

Jennifer Glass, Starling Crush

well, certainly the trailblazors made it easier on the rest of us. And now, aside from what I describe above, it seems to be a fairly level playing field, in terms of being able to achieve notoriety and success.

Cheetie Kumar, Birds of Avalon

most definitely! i think there is a freedom among women making music today that just wasn't there before. you see a lot more female guitar players- actual players- not just strummers! women just seem more comfortable in their roles in bands and seem like they aren't confined to being the "hot chick" in the band, or the tough girl in the band. it just seems more natural for bands to be multi-gender these days.

Lisa Simpson, Finn Riggins

That's a tough question. I think what you see in the mainstream is only one part of the story. So when you have women in the fifties having to be very demure and singing pop songs, that doesn't tell the whole story of women and music from that era. The blues women were raunchy and rambuncsious. I think there is a consistency throughout the history of popular music in the 20th and 21st century where you see women who are marginalized or stereotyped, but you also find the women who were twisting the stereotypes, and women who were fighting against an unequal system. There are still glass ceilings in some areas of music (like classical music...women conductors). I think there is only the changes in cultural acceptance that show up as differences.

Rebecca Coseboom, Stripmall Architecture (formerly from Halou as well)

Yes - women are more than just the siren or folk singer these days. Women are also in the band and not just singers.

Photo of Jordan Valentine, Jordan Valentine & the Sunday Saints

Jordan Valentine, Jordan Valentine & the Sunday Saints

This might be a small thing, but I've especially seen that women my age and younger have really embraced the 'nerd' aspect of being a musician, which I think is a huge benefit to any musician's self-confidence and self-sufficiency, not to mention their development. When I was younger, there was a tacit sense that the 'girl' in the band shouldn't bother with the technical stuff--the gear, the sound design, the repairs, the geeking out on tubes and tone and everything else. To get someone to show you how to fix something or do something was a lot harder 15 years ago I think. A few months ago I was on Facebook and noticed a rash of my female friends all over the country all discussing how excited they were to learn how to solder. I know a lot of women who make their own electronic instruments, who run live sound, who repair amps, who've built theremins from a kit, who can bore you to tears with a discussion of the merits of flat-wound bass strings just as well as their male counterparts. I think this is indicative of the rise of 'nerd culture' and DIY culture in general, but particularly in the case of female musicians, I think it helps level the playing field. Plus, its damn fun.

Gin Wigmore

It's way more all about sex and image of a female artist these days. Creating more avenues for a female artist to expand their brand/product outside of music which is great but also sad that it's not just solely about the music anymore. People buying into a female musician now look into the whole package to decide wether or not they like the music. I personally think it should all be down to what your ears hear and then what your soul or hearts feels or takes from that, and who cares if that amazing music is not coming from a supermodel pretty artist wearing guccis!

Boshra AlSaadi, SAADI

I don't know if I do. I think women have more resources now, we don't need all the people the women of yesteryear needed in order to get heard. The days of a producer, engineer, label (again almost always men) are not gone but they are definitely dwindling. I can conceive of a song, record it, and put it in the world with nobody's help. That's power, man.

Photo of Rachel Flotard, Visqueen

Rachel Flotard, Visqueen

I was driving, and heard Tina Turner start Proud Mary. While that wife beater Ike sang the rollin' part, she spoke, and talked about how they were going to do it easy, and then they were going to do it rough. There is so much history, soul-suffering, movement, and lady power in our rear-view mirrors. The differences between us new ladies and Tina, is that she built the riverboat we work on.

Carly Comando, Slingshot Dakota

Not sure if I can explain the difference of generations of women musicians, but I can say that all of the women I meet are very strong and we have a lot of the same experiences. We are always shocked at the things some people say, and at the same time, we're always pumped to meet other female musicians.

Kelly Lynn

Yes. The older generation seems to have contributed music with much more meaningful content. However, there are countless musicians today who contribute powerfully meaningful content in their music.

Meg Castellanos, Totimoshi

I can only really speak for myself here; seeing that I am a middle aged musician, I am a bit more jaded. I don't feel the need to check out all the opening bands like I used to when I was younger.. I am very picky now when it comes to music and what I'll subject my ears to, since most of it's loud with in my genre. I also really appreciate the small moments of privacy and silence on the road. this is a rare gem and I take advantage of it fully. When I first started touring 10 years ago, it was all about the comraderie and partying. I still like to have a few drinks, but sleeping and waking up refreshed is more important. The focus is on putting on the best possible performance which is hard to do when you're hungover.

Lucy Woodward

"Back in the 60's, 70's and 80's, there were not a zillion artists and bands being flushed out every month. There was one Whitney Houston, one Madonna, one Go-Gos and they were everywhere. Nowadays, girl groups, singer songwriters and girl rock bands are a dime a dozen. There is less money at labels for artist development so they sign more acts and spend less money on an individual project.

What is amazing to see over the last 40 years is how cyclical music is. There is the era of solo-poetress-singer-songwriters (Joni, Alanis, Feist) always comes back around. The pop girl group (Supremes, Banarama, Destiny's Child) always coming back around. But it never goes out of style but absolutely comes and goes in strong waves.

I think women nowadays have to think of themselves as being their own business, not just a musician with a band. The music business has changed so much even in the past 10 years and women (and musicians in general) have to be way on top of their game across the board. I think back in the day, you relied on your manager, agent, label and lawyer to make all of your decisions. I think now, since an artist is more at risk for being lost in the shuffle, the she needs to know more, do more, be involved more.

I feel I can answer this question in so many ways! "

Megan Burtt

Sure, it's just evolution, trends, fads. I think that great music and performers stands through the test of time - Patsy Cline, Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin, Gillian Welch, Brandi Carlisle, who will be next??

Stephanie Gunther, not currently in a band.

I think it's more about differences in experience regarding genre. For example it may be harder to be taken seriously as a female in rap than it is as a female in country music. Through the decades women in music have consistently struggled to be taken seriously.

Photo of Chhom Nimol, Dengue Fever

Chhom Nimol, Dengue Fever

Throughout time women musicians are given more genres of music to choose from. In the past, in certain cultures if women were to choose to be a rock musician it would seemed promiscuous. Now it is more accepted.

Photo of Exene Cervenka, X, the Knitters, and solo

Exene Cervenka, X, the Knitters, and solo

i think younger women, in their teens and twenties are becoming more visible in the arts, and are becoming more comfortable with being themselves vs being a sex object. they have a hundred years of american musical history to learn from.

Jocelyn Greenwood from Jets Overhead

Not really. Obviously the ability for women to have a louder voice and be recognized professionally has greatly improved but I think the women themselves hold the same key qualities that comes out in their music.

Tasha Golden :: Ellery

"I think women artists in their 20's/early 30's now are more involved in the business aspect of what they do, allowing their creativity to seep into marketing, graphic design, social networking, etc. Of course, this is largely because MOST artists are getting more involved in their business, what with the possibilities of the internet and the decline of the music industry and its ghosts of labels past. But I also think the music industry reflects the overall cultural trend toward a more powerful female professional. An independent streak, perhaps. I love when we connect with other female artists of our genre who are around our same age. There's so much we tend to hash out other than music: We talk about funding, licensing, promotion, pitching songs, merchandise, marketing, anything you can imagine. And so many of these artists are brimming with fabulous ideas! When I speak with older women, I get a sense of their wisdom, their earned ease with their profession and with their audiences, and of course brilliant, brilliant songwriting. I wouldn't trade those interactions for anything. But I do think they're often less involved with the particulars of the career, and this difference is fascinating."

Cheryl Lindsey, The Breeders, The Carrions, Tsk Tsk, Exene Cervenka

no difference..We all try and make moving music to get our "mating call" out there..

Maree McRae

I think women now have it easier as it's more accepted and they are starting at a very young age and writing also.

Photo of Lili Haydn

Lili Haydn

I think every generation of women takes the progress made by her predecessors for granted. I don't know if it's true, but it seems like women over the last century had to be more serious in order to be recognized, and we may not be quite as intense as those who came before us, because we haven't had to be. I get to ride on the shoulders of jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams, bassist Carol Kaye, and film composer Shirley Walker, in the same way that the feminists who came before me allow me to be more relaxed about my right to equality and self-determinism. That said, every art requires tremendous dedication in order to truly succeed no matter what era or age.

Kat Burns - Forest City Lovers

I feel like now there are a lot of girls playing music so people understand that we can do it, and that we don't always play emo-folky stuff. Some girls can rock so hard and bring it, y'know? I feel like for people in the past it was even harder to get the credit and respect of their male counterparts.

Rebecca Martin

I think today's female performer may tend to be more savvy in the outside world and certainly remain more in control of the work that they present. I sometimes wonder if there would be more and perhaps even better singing if there were other opportunities outside of the those that one creates.

Photo of Chantal, Morningwood

Chantal, Morningwood

Not really, I think girls are still playing the role of girls as being sexual objects, even I fall pray to that sometimes. I think everything is still the same. I do think at this very moment in time it is very acceptable to be a female singer. When we first started 8 years ago it was very out of style to be girl lead singer especially fronting a rock band. No females were played on the radio, or on rock radio, besides Evanescence. Now they play Paramore and Evenescence still so there is still a long way to go.

Photo of Camilla Ingr

Camilla Ingr

Well, I just finished reading 'Neon Angel' by Cherie Currie about her life with The Runaways, and I have to say that my experiences have been pretty G-rated in comparison. That band really paved the way for us. I would like to think that now women musicians are a lot better informed about their rights financially. I am really hoping that all-girl groups are becoming less gimmicky and can be taken more seriously and judged equally alongside all-male bands. Baby steps...

Megan Reilly

I would have to believe it's a lot easier for us now.

Marie Parker, Secret Cities

"Keeping in mind that I've only experienced two decades of music as they happened, the thing that I notice right away is the increased sexualization of women musicians."

Julia Cafritz, Free Kitten

Right now, I am unimpressed. Up until now, there has been a steady trajectory of more women doing more interesting things. But to be fair, men aren't doing anything interesting either...there is a lull in music at the moment that makes it difficult to talk about the current generation of musicians, male or female.

Photo of Laura Pleasants, Kylesa

Laura Pleasants, Kylesa

For sure. There could be no Janis Joplin today unless she maybe looked like Barbie. All female pop stars look the same to me and have very little identity. Hmmm. There could probably be a long answer to this one!

Photo of Lauren Denitzio, The Measure [sa]

Lauren Denitzio, The Measure [sa]

I don't think it's necessarily a generational difference but I do see more women today playing genres of music that are seen as more masculine like metal, noise, or guitar heavy rock. It's amazing and you see a lot more women taking the lead in those sorts of bands.

Photo of Paz Lenchantin, The Entrance Band

Paz Lenchantin, The Entrance Band


Rykarda Parasol

YES~ the new younger male audience is far more open to female artists. The 90s was a terrible phase I think. Women were so busy trying o be men that they lost their feminity and I think that's a big mistake

Silvana Kane, PACIFIKA

"absolutely. women's rights have made a significant difference to the opportunities that we have today. i am not sure what my life as a musician would've been like 50 yrs ago, but i am pretty sure that doing this as a living would not have been looked upon as positively as it is these days. i am grateful to all female artist who paved the way for us. i am sure that amongst all the great classical music composers, we would've also been exposed to many incredible women had they had the chance to study or be exposed to the arts the same way that men were. "

Sarah Saturday, Gardening, Not Architecture

Yes, I think the increase in the number of independent women in the industry has helped blur the lines between guys/girls in bands, and has gotten people used to the idea of girls being in bands. When I first started, when I was 16, there were no girls in unsigned bands in my genre. Now, 15 years later, there are tons of young girls in bands. But I don't see as many musically talented female players as the days of Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, etc. It's a fashion statement most of the time, and mostly "singers" who don't play or write the music.

Photo of Natalie Brown

Natalie Brown

I can't answer this as I don't know a while lot of older female artists.

Rebecca Vernon, Subrosa

Yes. There seem to be less strong female role models in the heavy rock world now. Less strong female role models in general. There are some great role models in the indie rock world, like The Gossip. But in the heavy music world, females like Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy, Karyn Crisis, Joan Jett, and PJ Harvey are rare.

Dottie Alexander, of Montreal

Yes. This generation seems to reward superficial mediocrity in women.

Photo of Gwyneth Moreland, I am the girl half of a boy/girl duo called Gwyneth & Monko

Gwyneth Moreland, I am the girl half of a boy/girl duo called Gwyneth & Monko

Yes! I see a HUGE difference in the freedom of expression that woman have now...but that goes for men as well. There is such a wide variety of tastes in music now, and audiences are so much more open minded now than they used to be. In the genre of music that I play, which is country, or Americana, I see huge differences in the role of the female performer... Women like Loretta Lynn and Emmy Lou Harris have been so instrumental in this.

Lisa Pykäri / Regina

It is easier for women of our generation than it used to be during the previous decades. Even in the 80´s women musicians were still partly working as pioneers, and it wasn't until the 90´s that women no longer had to constantly prove their talent among male musicians and the music industry.

Kimberly van der Velden, Daily Bread

I don't really know, don't know that many women musicians and espacially not in an earlier generation.

Clare Muldaur Manchon from Clare and the Reasons

Well, I think woman who came before me have broken the stereotypes that woman are just chicks. My dad's first wife Maria Muldaur did so much for women in music, she started out as a demure "chick" upfront with a beautiful warbly voice and became really a powerhouse of a performer and quite the music historian. She broke the idea that if you don't have a male band member leading the way, you're not going to make it. She certainly made it without those men.. On her own. Bessie Smith, one of my favorite singers was a star, but she was payed less for performing than her pianist who accompanied her, which is mind boggling. I believe today, in the indie world at least, people do often listen before they look at the image of the woman. We are humans though, and clearly it helps in any area of music to be "hot" even in classical music, they so clearly market the woman as such.

Photo of Liz Hysen

Liz Hysen

Not necessarily. I don't think a ton of people went to see Nico, Alice Coltrane or Diamanda Galas perform. I do think there are an incredible group of female musicians right now making interesting music with the same level of exposure (that is to say, little or none). I don't think Pitchfork is ever going to write about Diamanda Galas but I know a lot of people who will pay money to see her. In general, the approach that these women have towards creating music has not changed; they all have a very strong sense of what they're doing. I don't think it was popular to make experimental music for a while and it's certainly a lot easier now, regardless of gender.

Sarah Elizabeth Foster

This is an interesting question because I think the answer is that there's not much difference. I do have a great aunt who gave up music after going to a conservatory because she got married, but that was right after World War II, which was a long time ago. I think because women are excepted to earn just as much as men now, we are actually encouraged not to go into music because the idea is that it doesn't pay well. I can imagine that in past generations, if the family had money, they thought it was a great idea for a woman to study music in college because she wasn't going to actually have a career anyway and music is a nice skill to have.

Jenelle Coleman

Not really, just as the times have changed, so has the sound of music... but it all comes back full-circle.

Eleanore Everdell

Yes and no. Of course there are period of adversity that women in all professions have had to endure. Those things can inform the way you interact with the world and so create your art. Music that attracts me generally is not politically driven so in the womens music that I like, I tend to find many more parallels in expression and shared experiences over the generations, than differences.

Photo of Julia Kugel, The Coathangers

Julia Kugel, The Coathangers

I think that the pioneering women of music had to fight for their place harder than we have. Even female musicians in the 1990's had to put up with a lot of harassment and cynicism. I feel that we have been lucky to receive harsh blog comments instead of spit and beer cans!

Ana Egge

Yes. Equality is becoming more real in everyway not just professionally.

Eden Fineday, Vancougar

See above! Anyone younger than 30 would not have experienced what I went through in the mid-90's.

Joanie Leeds, Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights

I definitely see differences between generations of women musicians. For one, dancing in a bra and panties would have never happened back in the day. I think about what my grandmother must be thinking when she sees a Lady Gaga performance on TV. I know that my generation is pretty desensitized to these sort of images nowadays but it's still shocking to see women dress like that. Sometimes I wonder if she wore jean and a tee shirt and sang with out all the smoke and whistles if any one would like her or her songs at all. I think the female artists from years past had to be really strong because it was more about the words, performance and the artists' presence. I don't mean to generalize either but it seems like today you can just throw on some weird outfit and hump the stage and get a record deal. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong generation!


"Women today are a lot less afraid to be political, or story tellers. Back in the early 20th centry, it was all about wailing on soprano notes about lost loves. In the nineties and early 2000s it was all about wearing nothing, having long flowy hair and videos were degrading.

Though maybe not in urban music, this is slowly changing in other genres."

Photo of Emm Gryner

Emm Gryner

With the onslaught of the internet and this fascination with celebrity, there seems to be a bit of homogenization in the pop world - musically and in terms of fashion too. It must have to do with having to dig deeper to find the true female rockers. We see Miley Cyrus everywhere instead of Emily Haines, for example. I think back in the day (or maybe it's just my opinion) it was easier to find Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Nicks, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell in the mainstream - real musicians who put music before fame.

Zina Goldrich

I see more women composers out there. We are still a small group. Many go into pop music, which seems to welcome women more. There weren't many female composer role models growing up. If you ask me my musical influences, they are all men.

Cynthia Nelson, Freesia

Whether or not you have to prove yourself as being a capable player. I think there are enough capable female players now (or they have had exposure) that it's not such a shock for people to see, and/or there's not this assumption that maybe you aren't going to be very competent on your instrument. Now there is possibly more a trend toward showpersonship, dancing, flashiness, production, rather than songwriting or instrumental capability. But there is also a history of women doing lots of creative things within the world of music that aren't necessarily related to "skill," making the most of what you have available to you in sound is a great model.

Erin Tidwell Overcasters

Not to much. I think its becoming easier for women in music

Sara Magenheimer, WOOM

In some ways, yes and in some ways it just seems like the generations have endlessly repeated the same game...women don't form groups and bond as easily as men, so they're, in my opinion, more apt to ignore their "foremothers" and go their own way...sometimes only to fall in the same traps, etc.

Photo of God-des and She

God-des and She

Yes. Women used to be able to just be amazing musicians and not have to sell there bodies...since Brittney Spears and Beyonce all that has changed. You need the "whole package" to achieve mainstream sucess these days and its sad cause the music isn't about making people feel inspired it's about making people feel aroused.

Ash Reiter

Yes, I think in the past women had to be pretty in music then there was the revolution where women could be punk, now I think things are a little more relaxed and women can create their own niche.

Photo of Zambri


i do see that these days 15 year olds are singing and dancing around with little to no clothing, and instead of admiring a girl for her ability, we see lots of people looking up to women as sex objects. i feel like back in the day maybe there was less of that going on. even when madonna entered it seems like she was simply expressing herself, but now all the copy cats are almost mocking that expression and abusing it.

Abby Musgrove

There are so few women in older generations who were successful and well-known conductors, that it is hard to comment. Those women who are in my field and just starting out (in our 30s) have few, if any real role models. We're figuring this out on our own.

Photo of Carmen Souza

Carmen Souza

"Yes, of course there are big differences, I hear a lot of Billie Holiday, Nina Simone , Cesaria Evora,Ella Fitzgerald, and the times where they lived were completely different times from the ones we live now. I speak about NIna Simone that had to fight for so many causes mainly racial issues, we could hear that in her music and she was a vehicle through her music, fighting for freedom and equality. Billie Holiday didn't have the best of lucks in her life she didn't come from a rich and wealthy family and she didnt take the best of decisions for her life. But in the end thats what made these artists special, because they had real struggles, real complicated struggles in their lifes, and that was transported to their music. And we are just talking about women there are names like Charles Mingus, Horace Silver who lived in dificult times .Nowadays because we did have people who fought for all of that, the conditions of life are different, there are other resources that they didn't have, I think there is the generation of sitting in shadow of the work the other generations done in the past. Women instead of keeping the dignifying image, that has always been connected with women, there is now an issue that everybody speaks about which is Women power, I mean I have nothing against it, If people are Inteligent, Talented, either men or women why shouldn't they be given an opportunity, I'm just not happy with the way women have been using or reaching power, they use their bodies as a very important tool instead of Talent. "

Photo of Sara Renner of Sara Renner & The Elements

Sara Renner of Sara Renner & The Elements

There have always been strong women in music for sure. But I do see women becoming more honest & real in their songwriting and performance and less dependent on their male counterparts as they build their audiences and tell their stories. Although you still see the extremes..those women who are still exploited for their sexuality and those whose message is controlled by forces other than themselves. The rise of independent artists & music in this generation is giving women a more independent and pure voice.

Melissa McClelland

women are starting to master their instruments in the rock/pop/blues/jazz/folk world. Instead of just being a 'voice' or a 'songwriter', women are playing lead guitar & getting behind the drum kit. That wasn't as common back in the day.

Tory Daines, Those Mockingbirds

I am sure there are many differences between generations of women musicians but I was not exposed to them. I was raised in a environment that supported equality but was not exposed to the harshness of gender discrimination. I used to go to my mothers opera auditions where all the roles were gender specific so she was competing against other females for a job, and I listened to music based on talent not gender.

Photo of Sandra McCracken

Sandra McCracken

I think of Loretta Lynn, out on the farm with her kids, writing hit country songs and all the struggle it took for her to get to the Opry. I think of Shawn Colvin, a fierce talent with a powerhouse voice and the freedom to make her own career moves. Or EmmyLou Harris, who has continued to reinvent herself as an artist for 40 years. I don't have any profound connections to why these women have been able to make it work in spite of the cultural, financial and other obstacles. But all I know is, I am taking good notes.

Megan Birdsall, MBird

Particularly in the aspect of media...people: men, woman, teens, kids are the same now as they have always been, but the media has found a growing niche since the 40's that works for pretty girls selling things and hot boys being cheesy with cars. That is just the way it has always been and I didn't have the same road other woman had in music...maybe I was jaded when I started performing because I had been witnessing men and women working together in the Arts since I was a child. I had always been more inclusive than exclusive in my vision for music, and in jazz I spent a lot of time with old guys and old females telling me stories about race and sex and the rubs and blues that came out of that living. However those things are what make songs stand the test of time, and little girls and little boys are still singing those songs. Musicians are constantly evolving because everyone is moving and growing inside singularly, and then growing as a whole. Influencing each other and making a difference whenever they decide to engage and frankly any person who can hang in there through their own ebbs and flows is worth applause whether they are male or female. I do think the ladies have had an interesting road breaking themselves out of molds they feel are still in place for them, or rebelling against them so they can eventually embrace them in their own way. My generation is all about that. Shuffling off the past to break into the new. Indy music is a perfect example. The blurring of the male and female lines are awesome there because there are no rules yet.

Angela McCluskey

nope..l think some women are strong throughout from edith piaf to patti smiht and some are fluffy and but into the little girl sex bomb stuff......britneys and miley..

Eve Goldfarb

"There are many more woman conductors of major and minor instrumental orchestras than there were forty years ago - and they still aren't that common.

More women play jazz than did forty years ago - but we're still in the minority."

Ruth Gerson

It's hard to separate the generations by sex alone. What was going on in the 60s and 70s culturally affected many women artists. The songs I've Got The Pill, D-I-V-O-R-C-E - those were giant brave, feminist statements. Patti Smith through the 80s. Women were singing out loud and letting it rip. Culturally, the female music that sells right now, I would say is less feminist. It's about being pretty, pretty voices, pretty faces - for commercial music. HOWEVER, if you want to find radical females, the beauty of our current time - is that everyone can be heard and everyone can be found. You can't shut anyone up based on the economics of the music business. So the difference now, is there is the opportunity for every woman to have a voice.

Photo of Heather McIntosh, Gnarls Barkley, Circulatory System, used to play w Lil Wayne

Heather McIntosh, Gnarls Barkley, Circulatory System, used to play w Lil Wayne

there seem to be a lot more ladies making music these days, but there have been carol kayes, carla bleys, ruth crawford seegers, and alice coltranes paving the way for a while.

Shannon Steele

"The women musicians I grew up listening to were almost all feminists. A lot of their musical content talked about it.

Lately, the ladies I listen to write about everything and anything. They don't avoid the topic of feminism but I think a road was paved so that it doesn't have to be such a focus anymore."

Tracy Bonham

There are differences in generations of musicians always, for women and men. The difference with men and women artists of this generation is that there are that many more generations before them to draw influences from.

HolleThee Maxwell

Yes.......from solid music with melodies and words to non singing non musical taqlking in tune/notune noisiness (LOL)

Ariana of Admiral Radley & also Earlimart

I guess it might have been difficult to sing in a corset at one time.

Beth Waters

I think that the differences in generations are trends in the music industry in general. It's much more about being sexy in some now a days in some genres of music, but I think that's true for men too. Maybe there is more of an expectation that if you are a woman making music, you better be able to have the whole package and be able to sell yourself as a product too. The only woman who isn't like that that I can think of off hand right now is Bonnie Raitt.

Rupa, Rupa & The April Fishes

there are more women now. and there appears to be a broader kind of woman musician on stage. from the lesbo-folk style to the raging hiphop artists. from soft and inviting to divas lighting stuff on fire. i see a broader range of woman musician these days which is GREAT ! because it's not just about being a woman with a guitar. it's about what they are saying and how they are saying it.

Susan L. Yasinski Group, Susan and the SurfTones

I see differences in generations of musicians. Younger players don't want to put in the work it takes to master an instrument. This is a general statement. There are exceptions, I'm sure. With today's technology, it's different for younger players.

Lisa Mathews, Milkshake

Again, I think it's based on musical genre. Take country music in the fifties and sixties vs. rock. I think the country music women played it safe and fit into a mold expected by their audience longer than the women in rock. Change was really evident in rock women musicians of the fifties (Shirley Bassey), sixties (Janis Joplin), seventies (Linda Ronstadt), eighties (Chrissie Hynde), nineties (Fiona Apple, Alanis Morrisette). With each generation, women have grown more fearless, outspoken and as blatantly sexual as they might want to be.


No not really. I feel like I admire many generations... I just hope that those generations admire the emerging female artists as well!

Coco, The Ettes

I don't! The old guard, if they can see it in your eyes, how hard you work, how well you do your job, that you're not expecting anything to be easy, they warm up immediately. We recognize our own, regardless of age.

Sarah Dashew

I think that generational differences exist between women musicians just like they exist between people everywhere. As artists, we reflect our world, our cultural and political experiences and histories that precede us...I think women as a whole in the music world now are more confident, more likely to dive into any realm they want, without fear of reprisal or unspoken rule-breaking. And it's because of women like Joni Mitchell, Tina Turner, Madonna and some other heroes that I dove in too.

Submitted Anonymously

Most importantly for the future of European classical music, I see the same thing happening to younger women as to younger men in the field of classical composition: the decreasing knowledge and attainment of classical techniques. Younger women gain untenured academic teaching jobs more easily than in the past.

Rachele Eve Guastella

Not really. However, I ripped my first electric guitar solo the other night and it didn't take much to impress people.


There is a difference I guess. But womens role in society has changed a lot through out the past decades and this was reflected in the way they were portrayed in the media of course. Billie Holiday would sing songs with lyrics like "I'd rather my man would hit me, than just get up and quite me, Ain't nobodys business if I do". You wouldn't hear a woman on the radio singing about this in our day and age. We still have young girls and women in music today that fits someones airbrushed fantasy, but who am I to judge. I feel women like Patti Smith paved the way for our generation females in Rock, where ugly can be beautiful. Its brave for women to give up being pretty as a tool in your box. I think she is beautiful, when she spits and hisses and scratch at your soul. She is my hero.

Leslie Sisson, The Wooden Birds and Matt Pond PA

"Yes, thanks to the growth of music accessability via the internet and the increase of females in music playing primary roles rather than something ornamental like a cute token chick bass player, I think more and more girls are starting off at a younger age getting into music and learning instruments. There also seems to be a flux of classical instruments in bands lately, such as cello and violin, instruments that girls typically begin playing at a young age."

Clara Kebabian

I see differences in the function of marketing - the packaging and presentation of image.

Jana Herzen

Absolutely. Young women these days have a much higher sense of entitlement to express themselves freely than they did in my generation.

Photo of Lys Guillorn

Lys Guillorn

I think younger women coming up right now probably have it a little bit different. They can take it a little bit more for granted. That's probably a good thing.

Bari Koral, Bari Koral Family Rock Band

"on some level I feel that some of the earlier generations were almost more empowered because they were writers: carly simon, carole king, join mitchell. I'm sure t hey had plenty to contend with being woman- but they could write and put together a whole song. some of these ""artists"" if you can call it that- springing from american idol who are not writers must be whole heartedly dependant on others, namely men, to put together thier look and sound. of course any artists that is empowered, be in man or woman can write their own destiny I think. i'm thinking madonna or lady gaga or Pink. not sure what happens behind the scenes but these woman seem like very take charge kind of artists. maybe that is easier for my generation then it was for the joni, carly generation."

Julia Richter

yes. Quite a few women wait until they can get an orchestra job somewhere before getting married and starting a family.

Tara Vanflower, Lycia

No. I believe there are those that take charge of their own careers and those that are puppets and it's always been that way.

Lucia Turino, The Devil Makes Three

I guess the only difference I've seen from personal experience is that younger women are less defensive. As I said above, you still get treated differently some times, but its not that bad. The women who came before us paved the way so that we can breeze through and so we aren't expecting people to give us a hard time. The generations before really had a lot to prove and that can show in there attitudes if not in they're playing or song writing.

Gayelynn Mckinney

Only that there are many more women that are being band leaders, making, playing, producing and writing music, It's wonderful! I am so happy to see that. :-)

Elizabeth and the Catapult

I'm not sure that I do, no. But I'm sure there is, and will think on it.

Merica Lee, The Naked Heroes

HOLY CRAP! Of course! You still had your badass women in music throughout the ages. But, it was really rare for a woman to play instruments (besides the acoustic guitar and that usually just as an accompaniment for their singing voice). I know there are a few exceptions to this rule but let's be honest very few. I have musical women heroes most definitely!!!!! But as far as the drummers that I think are the toughest and most awesome, they are men. Things are changing tho! It's not weird for me to roll up to a show and find that a few of the drummers in the other bands are girls. Or to have women come up to me and tell me that they play the drums too! I know that the next generation of lady drummers will most definitely have heroes, girl drummers whose styles they'll try to copy. This is exciting news and I cannot wait!

Submitted Anonymously

Women today have to be more self sufficient if they're independent and they have the tools at their disposal to do so.

Ariane Cap

"I wish I could say that. I see a lot of fantastic female bassists on the scene today (Esperanza Spaulding, Tal Wilkenfeld for example) who continue the lineage of mavericks such as Carol Kaye, Me'Shell NDegeocello and Rhonda Smith. Professional female bassists still seem to be such a rarity, however.

One o fmy missions in life is to inspire girls of all ages to pick up the bass guitar and explore its distinct feminine and earthlike qualities. After all, groove comes right from the belly and the hips and women know all about that, just watch them dance!"

Photo of Tessa Souter

Tessa Souter

There has definitely been a huge increase in women instrumentalists. Nowadays when I tell people I am a musician, they ask "What instrument do you play?" But the assumption only five years ago was always "Are you a singer?" Having said that, there's still room for improvement: Carla Bley, the amazing American composer, bandleader and pianist who has been absolutely gigantic in Europe since the 1960s was billed in a serious newspaper that should have known better as "the singer Carla Bley" the last time she performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in 2009. Which isn't to say there's anything wrong with being a singer, of course, just that although they remain an important part of the jazz scene, they aren't the only thing.

Rennie Sparks, The Handsome Family

Yes, although over the years it's gotten less extreme. Twenty years ago men were very uncomfortable with women musicians. Sound engineers were all men and would sometimes not talk directly to or listen to me when I spoke to them. Men in the audience would routinely feel obliged to correct everything from how I played on stage to how I plugged in my cords. They tended to treat me like I was stupid or a child. Things have changed a lot.
Yes, nowadays women are much more confident about their playing and writing of songs. Women used to not even tune their own instruments back then if they did play an instrument. Most women in indie rock back then were only vocalists.

Photo of Olof Arnalds

Olof Arnalds

This is such a huge concept, that I think it would deserve nothing less than a thesis written on it, which we obviously don't have space for here. Maby there are even several that exists, if not, I hope someone is working on it.

Susan Morton

That's hard to say; It's more personality than age. And personal choices: like between family or work which still have the greatest effect on the career path.

Gazelle Amber Valentine, Jucifer

younger women seem somewhat less conscious of gender inequalities, because things have improved. this can be good or bad... sometimes both at the same time.

Razia Said

"with the whole feminism movement i believe we play more parts with time. It's great in a way that we can make more decisions, but we also take a lot on us."

Jackie Stewart, Smegma

Yes, with influence and equipment. I have to say for the most part they are stimulating differences though.

God-Des & She

I see a difference more in the mainstream. Years ago, women musicians were still expected to be pretty like the Supremes, but now talent is a far second to image. The Supremes were great musicians and happened to be pretty. But many of our current female pop stars are not great or even good singers. The industry turns them into a product and sells who they are much more then how their music is. Anyone can sing with auto-tune and have a famous writer write their songs.

Dr. Jennifer Kelly, Lafayette College

Classical music: In the past 125 years, many strides have been taken by women beginning with access to music education. Since WWII, the changes for women in music continue to be tremendous and encouraging! And yet, there are still many "firsts" that keep surprising me when I interview composers - first woman to receive a doctorate at this school, first woman conductor of this ensemble, first woman commissioned for that ensemble, only the third woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in music (2010), etc. I teach a Women in Music course at Lafayette, and I continually learn from the in-class discussions with students about where they are, what they like, and their awareness of gender issues.

Anna Rose

I see subtle differences, but I find more similarities actually! I find female musicians to be incredibly brave and strong, in every generation. I'm very proud to be a woman, especially a woman songwriter, in this industry.

Monique Buzzarté

More differences between people than between generations.


"I don't know. I made up my mind a long time ago that no one could steal my unique expression. There was a lot of distrust towards other women about material and more than a case or two of a singer ""stealing"" away your band or a member of it when I was young. Even Lily Tomlin wanted my band without me once! Iam currently putting together a project of all women musicians. I enjoy hearing what's new. I notice ageism but hell, Im old AND still working so I get to be gracious. Life is good. "

Photo of Jessica Bailiff

Jessica Bailiff

Maybe just that more recent generations of women are doing so much of it themselves (making the music, recording it, releasing it, booking their own tours, etc), whereas in recent decades, bands or performers would look to be signed to a record label that would handle most things for them.

Photo of Erin Barra

Erin Barra

"I can only speak for my own generation but I imagine the pressure to have a certain body type and be attractive wasn't so omni-present in the past. But at least you don't have to make good music anymore right?!?! I joke"

Perley Rousseau, Sonny & Perley

"Yes. Most obvious to me is the number of women musicians today compared with those before the 1970s or even 1980s. It seems there are more schooled vocalists with music degrees who also play an instrument than in earlier generations."

Photo of Naomi Yang / Damon & Naomi / Galaxie 500

Naomi Yang / Damon & Naomi / Galaxie 500

Starting out playing in rock clubs in the late 80's there were some women musicians but many fewer than now. And I ran into much more sexism, but I think that was just true in the world in general. A sound engineer at a club once asked me sarcastically if he had to show me how to plug in my amp. But I think in the 90's so many women started bands and played in bands and the times just changed. Now often we go to a club and the sound engineer IS a woman.
I really think any differences are very parallel to social differences in the generations in general. My mother-in-law is a jazz singer, and she talks about the men jazz musicians treating her just like "the girl singer" and not a real musician at all. And I see the younger generations of women just taking it for granted that they should be treated exactly as men. But probably for my generation, we were very aware that we had the right to be treated equally but it was not always the case that we were at the time.

Kristy Osmunson

In all honesty, I think I have only met two female musicians here in Nashville, and they actually shared many similarities to myself.

Alex Roots

Obviously different musical styles, but I would say that there are far more around these days.

Annie Fitzgerald

I think the morphing of the music business in general - how it's shifting so quickly and with so much impact - is the main reason why there would be differences in the generations. I look to Shawn Colvin, and Patty Griffin......or Emmylou and so many others for inspiration and courage and as role models. So I guess there must be something to that as well.

Kendall Jane Meade, Mascott

Yes, I love walking around the East Village and see so many women with gig bags walking around. It fills me up. Nothing feels better than playing music, and it's amazing to see so many women having that experience.

Photo of Andrea Rogers, Night Driving in Small Towns

Andrea Rogers, Night Driving in Small Towns

Yes. I feel that a lot of women in my generation and the generation directly preceding mine come off a lot harsher because they struggle so much to be successful while still retaining the characteristics that make them distinctly female. It is very difficult to retain your femininity in a way that, say, Connie Francis did. Instead, we have flashy, oversexed, photoshopped versions of what women are supposed to be; and on the other side of the scale, we have hyper-masculine, overly made-up, trans-gendered versions of women. Some may say this is a result of women breaking out of the patriarchal machine, testing the limits of sexuality and gender roles. But it may very well be just another female survival mechanism inherent in the music industry.

Photo of Ann Savoy

Ann Savoy

In the past in Louisiana women were considered the lowest form of life if they played in dancehalls...today they are pretty well accepted

Brooke Waggoner

"Not necessarily. In some ways, yes. In other ways, no. For example, if you go all the way back to the early 1000's you'll find people like Hildegard of Bingen making music and leaving their mark. Then later in the early 1800's there was Fanny Mendelssohn. And later on in 1942 there was Viola Smith making quite a splash as a consummate jazz drummer who could hold her own in any jam session. I see a common thread of women making their mark (albeit less common than men, of course) but a mark nonetheless.

One difference in today's generation vs. yesteryear is how bold women have become - too bold. Women push their image and looks harder than they ever have. Sex is everywhere and it's greatly due to women. They play that card too often. All opportunity is there for women - we tend to create our own battles now a days... Women's lib is over and we now have women forfitting families for careers. It's being engrained in us at an early age - to find our dream and make it a reality. No one ever tells you about the part when you're 30, single, no children and your whole family is asking ""why?"" ""What happened?""

Sacrifices must be made. "

Photo of VV Brown

VV Brown

No, things go round in circles

Submitted Anonymously

Yes. The riot grrl movement changed a lot. Women can rock, that way has been cleared. It's not assumed that you can't play your instrument. But there's still that element of "prove yourself." There's more women out there playing now, which is comforting. I have a lot of women musician friends who are amazing, and we support each other.

Robin Renee

I can think of outstanding, outspoken women artists from many eras, Bessie Smith to Janis Joplin to Liz Phair and beyond, but I have the sense that there is a way to be bold, lyrical, and relevant since the 90s that wasn't around in the same way much before. Ani DiFranco has extraordinary talent, but she is not alone in the kind of approach and attitude that she uses. It seems to me that at many an open mic you can find young, outspoken women who will sing their lives out loud with passion, daring, politics- and with whatever attitude that helps them to say it best.

Karla Schickele, Ida and k

I feel like young musicians today are more plugged into a DIY network that includes more fellow female musicians than when I was in my teens and 20's.

Laurine Celeste Fox

Yes. It seems that it becomes easier for each successive generation of female musicians to be accepted just for their music and not have the focus be on their gender.

Courtney Kaiser, Kaiser Cartel

"There seem to be many more female musicians now than there were in the past and criteria for stardom seems to have changed. Fifty years ago, female musicians weren't picked in the pop world based on looks and their willingness to be told what to do. Talent in their voice or their instrument was the most important. That importance is no longer relevant in the main stream of the music industry.

We now have technology that allows for pitch correction, therefore you don't need to have a great singing voice for sound recordings. These days a lot of the mass public wants a ""show"" with dancing, costumes, and pyro which means the current female pop artist can sing to a pre recorded track or hire a background singer to sing the parts while she looks pretty and dances.

It is a sad thing for sure, but I think at some point, the public will be tired of the fantasy or the ""show"" and require performances with more substance. The audience will want to leave with inspiration. "

Stephanie Budge, Cadette

Not really. There are many personality types of women musicians through out the years.

Heather Dea Jennings

I think that today's women have many, many more opportunities, but still have a long ways to go. I can think specifically of the practices in Vienna of excluding women in their orchestras until very recently, it is a great advance that we women have that option if we choose that route. However, Marion Alsap's post as conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, was hard-fought, and she was almost rejected. This shows how much more we have to go to get more balance in all of our musical areas.

Susan Slesinger

I see a lot more performers in orchestras. However there are still very few women composers and the number enrolled in composition courses does not seem to have increased.

Shunda K, Yo! Majesty

"Da newer artist only seem to compete against one another instead of preaching U.N.I.T.Y., and jus spittin food for da soul like da Queen Latifah's and MC LYTES did back in da day.

Im old skool, so hold on to ya seats!!!

www.shundak.com "

Nicole Kern, Balmorhea

I do not have a whole lot of experience with other females in bands. None of my close female friends are in bands and I do not know a lot of older female musicians. When I think about females in bands, bands of the 1960s and 70s pop in my head. Those women were not only pioneers in music, but also society. They were a sign of the times and I guess women aren't really looked at in that way anymore. I don't think it's that big of a deal to be a woman in a band anymore. Unless you're a female drummer. That usually gets some attention.

Mama Doni Band

"I feel like I am in the middle generation right now. There are the young hipsters in their 20's, and I am not that anymore, I am a mother...

There are women who have been performing for years and years with established careers, and I am not that either...

I am in my mid 30's, a mother of two children, who after having had a different career before children, finally found my VOICE as a young mother. I feel honored to be part of the world of female musicians and know I can learn from everyone...I also know that I couldn't have done this in my 20's, I didn't know who I was then, and I certainly wasn't going to be singing this kind of music then....My music is not religious like traditional Jewish music, but it is also not totally secular because it is Jewish-themed, so often I feel like I don't fit in to any genre. If I was a younger woman I couldn't have handled this.

I think I needed every experience and moment of my life to bring me to this music and this spot. I needed every moment to give me the courage to put myself out there in this way, and to believe in my voice. I needed every moment to have the humility to stay grounded and humble during big successes and hold on during tough moments.


Photo of Samantha Stephenson, The Gypsy Nomads

Samantha Stephenson, The Gypsy Nomads

I am no historian when it comes to women musicians, however, I do believe that it is much easier to be a woman musician today than it must have been years ago. My opinion is of course colored by my own experience as I described in the previous question. However, women can be strong, fierce, beautiful and powerful without the back lash of old conservative religious views that they are somehow deviant or damaged. I'm sure those beliefs still linger but the culture has changed. When I'm pounding on drums I can see that it has a strong affect on girls/women... they are inspired by it and they can feel it in a profound way. For a woman to express her fire through music can be exhilarating and inspiring.

Photo of June Millington

June Millington

"Yes. Although many girls are still shy to express themselves in general - only needing the invitation to do so - they at least know that the notion of playing in a band is generally accepted. Boys might sneer and compete with them, oftentimes, for example, drowning out a girl singer with their instruments, but society as a whole does not. Where girls really have a difficult time entering into careers in music concerns body image. That has not changed a bit, and is a continual problem. On the plus side, girls have no problem experimenting with different sounds and cutting-edge technology, for example playing electric/amplified cello or working with loops generated and performed with onstage."

Photo of Vassy


"yes not being from a family of music i can only comment on what I have seen through music's history...

Women now have true control and can run entire empires and be producers of their companies.....

but the art hasnt changed they were still as talented back then as now"

Aurore Ounjian. Mean Creek

I do and I dont. I like to think we've always had strong female musicians/singers, such as Joan Biaz, Janis Joplin, Kim Deal, etc. The only thing that seems to be different, is the growing number of females in current music. I think its wonderful.

Miss Murgatroid

girls are starting out younger with more intent and willingness to experiment. there are so many female musicians to look to now - both old and young, and they are being influenced be the rest of us.

Nicole Chamberlain

I haven't seen much difference. It seems we're all just trying to get the next and hopefully better gig. The more I meet, the more I realize how similar we are.

Photo of Leandra Peak, Neal & Leandra

Leandra Peak, Neal & Leandra

Yes. Younger women are often too willing to act like little girls to get what they want.

Nive Nielsen

sure. Simplified it seems to be more about being a (good looking) woman and less about what that woman has to say, these days - but then again the context is totally different, too. And on the other hand women are now way bigger stars than they were a few generations ago (or so it feels). There ´s more women can do today, it seems (less divisional stylistic barriers, too). Funnily enough precisely because of that (ao) I listen and feel way stronger about very old female artists (the first dusty blues 78s with female singers and such). Oh well

Photo of Bettye LaVette

Bettye LaVette

I see differences between women after the seventies. Women entertainers were suggestive until then. Women have become way too salacious since then. There is little left to the imagination.

Heather Perkins

"I see younger women being a bit more free to express themselves musically, and also having more institutionalized support (e.g., Girls Rock Camp.) I think this is of mixed value.

I also see a ton of the same old tired stereotypes - ""chick"" musicians have to be young and hot - so.... yeah. It's mixed."

Faith Fusillo, ISIS

"Ya think?

To be a woman musician in the 1970s was like being a martian who just landed on earth.

When we toured to support our third album in 1976/77, the Village Voice wrote of me: ""She held the guitar like a falice...""

The music business is about: who sound like (you even asked the same question here), how can we pigeon-hole you? There were no role models -- ZERO -- for us coming up in the late 60s and 70s...we found out about other female players by word of mouth. We had horns so we were likened to Chicago...but our songs were nothing like them. In my opinion, being a girl with an electric guitar wasn;t sexy -- that is, until Prince came along. He and Bo Diddley are the two men who dared to defy the mold and consistently through their careers, had women playing instruments in their bands."
"Yes...the women playing today have no idea who helped pave the way for them...and that makes me very sad.

Take a woman's right to vote: in my opinion, young girls and women today do not have no clue about -- and therefore take for granted -- the huge sacrifice the women of the Suffrage Movement made to ensure the generations of women who followed would have a place at the table. IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU'VE BEEN, YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING"

Jimena Villalobos/ Bring That Shit. A hardcore punk band

Yes and no. A lot of phenomenal women musicians have paved the way for younger generations to be more assertive, more bold. But the spirit stays the same

Debbie Cunningham

I think each generation gets more creative and bold by the groundwork that previous female musicians have laid.

Photo of Janis Ian

Janis Ian

Mmm... I'm on the cusp, straddling between the Ella/Sarah/Nina and Baez era and the Ani/Catie/Madonna era. Hard for me to say, knowing people from both so well. I do think the younger females take their right to be musicians more lightly than we did, but then again, that's what we fought for, isn't it?!

Photo of Eternia


I see more similarities than differences. We all wear multiple hats, and have to take on a lot of different professional roles ourselves - more than the avg male musician I think. When I tour, I'll be the ONLY woman on the tour, rolling solo, performing solo, no hype man or DJ or bandmates backing me often. Whereas the male acts on the same tour will be rolling like 4 deep, all supporting and helping each other. I find most female musicians I meet - in my field at least, Hip Hop - have to do it all themselves. So you can see why sometimes their biz or music may suffer as a result.

Photo of Eve Sicular

Eve Sicular

I hope things are getting less boys-club. Can't really tell. I hear stories that go both ways. I run my own projects so that's not so much of an issue for me the last decade or so. Of course, chemistry is not merely a simple gender issue. I have had good and bad experiences in all-women's projects too. Mutual respect ultimately matters most.

Photo of Raina Rose

Raina Rose

I think there were fewer female musicians in generations. I also think they had fewer role models than we do now as the gap between the sexes in terms of profession closes. I am sure i had more women to look up to then say, Joni Mitchell or Bonnie Rait, both incredible and well respected musicians. I also think Ani DiFranco's commitment to running her own empire has opened many doors for all of us wanting to not be taken advantage or in terms of her music/art.

Corrie Harrigan, Kitten Forever

i think the main difference now with women in this generation is that we have been brought up in an artistic world that is third and post-third wave. We don't have the same kind of primal struggle that women before us had and now it seems almost that "women in music" has become just another commodity to market. That is the dark side to any kind of revolution it seems; the best way to disarm it is to co-opt it and market it back to the masses, starting with Spice Girls for us and onwards. So now, our generation has to figure out how to navigate these new waters where a lot of the time, it seems like success can come to women because there's a price tag to be put on it. I'm not saying that the over exposure of female artists is bad, but there's a lot of people out there now discussing this "new wave of post riot grrrl bands" but I think there's a danger to be found in that. Riot Grrrl before us had a message, it had a political stance and stood for something. Now we are riding the wave of riot grrrl but I'm not sure what the new fourth wave of women in music is going to stand for. Each generation needs a voice, and so far none has emerged triumphant from ours that I can really get behind. (Don't get me wrong, I love Lady Gaga, but I'm just not sure if I want KeSha to be the new voice of women in music.) Our generation in general is one of marketing, not just for women in music, but for men as well and for all other aspects of our society, the arts, politics, and otherwise. This will be the difference with our generation I believe, to discover how we make something new and vital and engaging in a world of blogs that tell us what the hot new single is to download from an artist whose album we won't need to buy, and the 24 hour news cycle that exists to sell advertising time so we can buy "NOW That's What I Call Music 103".

Saskia Lane, The Lascivious Biddies

Yes, I think the younger generations don't see obstacles in the same way. There is an assumed equality which might be post-feminist but I see it as a good thing. the result of all the women who fought and spoke up before us.

Canie Ritchson

Of course! I do not see a popular woman singer out there anymore that dresses with simplicity. It seems like women now have to go beyond their ability to sing to make it in the music world. :-)

Genevieve Patterson, Paper Bird

I think any woman that has continued in music for more than a generation is a very unique individual. It takes a lot to be true to yourself when the road to marketing yourself in a shallow way is so wide open. Even if your music is the real substance, people might not see past the "young girls that sing thing" for a little while. But that's a very vulnerable position to put yourself in. There are a lot of girls that could replace you if you let someone else make you. You have to believe in what you're doing and feel connected to it or it will never last. The women that are still around are often the best role models.

Laura Larson, Cadette and Kitten Forever

I do think it's probably a lot easier now to be a girl in a band than in the past. There are still flaws and backlashes but you do see a lot more acceptance of females playing guitar than you did even back in the 90's; if you look at what Kathleen Hanna and all those girls dealt with during riot grrrl, I can't even imagine a world like that. They had beer glasses thrown at them, were called sluts and whores, had their clothes torn. Now we have rock camps for girls, more female-centered punk festivals. In Minneapolis, it feels like there are more girls in bands than I have ever experienced here, and the college radio station recently started a specialty show called "Girl Germs" where they have female musicians in-studio performances and interviews, and play music from female artists of various genres.

Photo of Claudia Schmidt

Claudia Schmidt

I think a lot of the women now are forced to think even more about packaging (themselves, I mean) than in the past. Cleavage and legs, even the folkish artists. There's a lot more pressure to be young and sexy, I think. Who said we're 'post-feminist'?

Photo of Poni Silver, The Ettes

Poni Silver, The Ettes

"Not really. If anything, I usually sense a form of comradery amongst a group of female musicians regardless of age. We know the trials and triumphs of being a woman in this industry (of being a woman in general) and detect it in one another by sight. Like a secret handshake. Like a gang.


Jane Vincent, Abiku and Morgaine

I think in the scene I am involved in, many women are involved in the creation of music and putting on shows. I think it is different to work in a post riot grrrl world. The women who came before me and demanded respect have certainly made a difference and opened minds in the scene; most people I deal with expect women to produce music rather than to simply be consumers.

Natalja Mari, Minimum Of None (MINIM)

Subtle differences.... The current generation of 20-30 year old lesser-known artists seem to have more of a strong sense of the feminine, a respect of the feminine, yet the popular artists are exploiting it like previous generations.

Sarah Shannon, The Not-Its!

Yes, you see so many female musicians now in every role (from lead to back-up) that it is no longer a big deal. I think more and more women are considered "musicians" not "female musicians"

Jane Herships

I think people expect something of you musically at this point. I think this has even changed in the past few years since I started performing. I don't think that the bar is lower, but I think people aren't as surprised if you are good if you are a woman. But, there are still lots of bands that get away with a lot because they are girls.

Jolie Holland

I don't know--people are all so specific--and I haven't worked with enough older female musicians to be able to make any sort of general comment. I sang with a big band a few nights ago, with a great female saxophonist, who's maybe old enough to be a young aunt of mine. All I can say is, she's great, and super friendly, like all the guys in the band. I've worked with Mary Margaret O'Hara and Lucinda Williams, both great singers of the previous generation. But I can't generalize a thing about them versus women musicians my age.

Dot Allison

I do... I hope we are progressing... I think women need to see themselves as worthy without having to allow themselves to be sexualized in a 'victim' kind of way... sexuality is beautiful.. but I think the objectification of any human being in an exploitative way is really sad.

Cherish Alexander, Bella Bazarria

"emotionally. no. socially. yes. these days, we are able to express ourselves more in a way that is accepted. but as women. we are pretty much all the same."


"Where do i begin?! The whole rock ethos born in the 60's and 70's was by, for, and about men. That was a long time ago, but there's still a chasm between men and women musicians about what's expected and accepted from each.I was almost dropped from Arista once for my ""rude rockstar behavior"" (ok, i was off the chain when i was 22! HA HA HA HA!! Imagine anyone saying that to a man.

Also, when i first started, my single was taken to AOR radio where i was told from 90% of them, ""We love your record, but we're already playing 2 women (probably Melissa Etheridge and Pat Benatar?), so we cant play you."" Seriously?!! Oh well, chalk it up to timing!

Things have changed some...but not enough. Thank god for the women who came before us and began breaking down the barriers - god only knows how bad it would still be if not for them! I guess i'm becoming one of those, having been at it so long...it's wierd and wonderful to transition from being the youngest to an elder stateswoman - HA HA HA!;-)"
Yes, and no...i think most musicians are still by and large, the insecure kid who sat in her room with a guitar and played alone every day...we're overly sensitive, insecure, and in need of alot of approval, also known as attention! Other than that...the younger ones are probably better at social networking (an absolute necessity now), posting videos, and staying in touch. And though I tend to concentrate more on playing and writing when i can, i still get sucked into the vacuum that is Facebook. I cant wait for it to be surpassed by whatever the next big internet thing is!

Maia Sharp

Yes. I think there are always differences between generations of women in any field. To whatever degree, women of previous generations had to fight harder for recognition, put up with more ignorance and bust open more ridiculous social boundaries. I know it's been easier for me as a woman musician because of my kick ass predecessors.

Photo of Karolyn Troupe, Venice is Sinking

Karolyn Troupe, Venice is Sinking

Etta James and Beyonce. I think this relationship (or maybe it's a feud?) is evident of the differences.

Photo of Renee LoBue

Renee LoBue

Many, but my first thought is that now a woman has to be good looking and talented, not just talented. Could Janis Joplin or Mama Cass have been successful today? I think not, which is sad, because they're still two of my favorite female musicians. C'mon people.

Miss Jack Davey, J*DaVeY.

earlier generations of women musicians seemed stronger & a bit more inventive than female artists of today. you had strong performers like tina turner who was the queen of outlandish costumes & performances, an early genre bender who really took chances. women like grace jones, annie lennox, grace slick, dale bozzio--strong women who's art relied on a boldness that far surpassed their sex. their strong essence was the sexy thing, not their sexy outfit & dirty lyrics.

Nicole Simone

What is happening in the world will always affect our work as artists. Stories will always be changing but themes will forever be the same. That's the magic of music to me. I can hear music that was made seventy years before I was alive and still feel and understand what was being communicated. It still carries the same message and power in the present time as it did when it was first created.

Megan Jacobs

yes the women from the 60's sang about political action and more righteous matters. they used organic sounding instruments and there was more freedom to be free back then. They created music that was more from the heart and simpler in once sense. back then - you had carol king, joni mitchell, joan baez. now the closest thing we have to that is ...norah jones and colbie caillet. music is much more produced now. there's more of a digital sound than analog. seems we've had to "dumb-down" lyrics in order to sell songs these days. I do believe people are still hungry for Real Music with Real Messages but i'm not sure if the Masses can digest anything heavier than "oops i did it again"

Kimme, Suxxcess Records

I believe a difference is the drive and the passion.

Blake Hazard, The Submarines

"My generation is the first to be able to take a lot of the progress made by the feminist movement for granted. We expect to be able to achieve everything a man can achieve, and with that expectation comes a lot of freedom. But, we've also had some confusion surrounding just what is possible once motherhood comes into the equation. It can put the brakes on that equal-achievement trajectory, at least for a while. I've seen a number of women artists handle motherhood and playing in a band beautifully, and I find them really inspiring. I think the previous generation of women musicians had a lot to prove to people about being able to stand up in music, and I'm deeply grateful to those women. I see Emmylou Harris, Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde doing great work today and appreciate that the trail is being blazed farther out into the future."

Photo of Jesse Sposato, Holy Hail

Jesse Sposato, Holy Hail

Sure. Women used to have songs written for them, dances choreographed...members selected and put together. They used to dress up in costumes that were super sexy and revealing to try to sell themselves. Many women do that now still, but clearly so much more is about taking it all back, making your own decisions, writing your own everything, picking out your own clothes, ones that you want to wear, etc.

Karen Waltuch, The Roulette Sisters

I wish I knew older women musicians, period.

Photo of Ellen Rowe, Ellen Rowe Quartet and Ellen Rowe Trio

Ellen Rowe, Ellen Rowe Quartet and Ellen Rowe Trio

I sense bitterness among some older women jazz musicians; they feel as though they did not get a fair shot in the 60s or 70s and that they were discriminated against. As more women have entered the field I think that has changed. I don't think the younger female jazz musicians feel that it is necessarily an uphill struggle due to gender concerns anymore, although I still sense some discrimination within the more "macho" instrument groups, like trumpet.

Photo of Samantha Maloney

Samantha Maloney

"I do not see many up and coming female musicians these days. There are few role women role models for young girls these days. The only girls they see are usually singers, half of who are lip syncing and more concerned about dancing than singing. At least Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga can play an instrument. But female drummers as role models are few and far between. "

Alison, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

Melodie Bryant

From what I observe, female musicians are better trained than they used to be and much more a part of the fabric of the musical world. I think they are better integrated.

Maria Tiscia

I can only speak for my generation. But I would guess with each new generation, it gets easier. At least I hope that's the case.

Lorraine McGurt, American Speedway

Yes... at first it appeared that women had to be singer/songwriters or folk players (in "popular" music). As the music became more aggressive so did the female musicians but with much less acceptance because of the aggressive nature of the music and the tendency to believe that women must be submissive/quiet/nurturing. I think that the differences between generations of women musicians could directly correlate to the growth of women and the womens movement.


"The ones who have 'lasted' have been:

A) Very talented B) Very, Very Lucky."

Sara Radle. I am in Walking Sleep, and also perform and release records under my own name.

The main thing I think about is the fact that women starting out today won't have to deal with as many struggles to be taken as seriously as their male counterparts. That's an awesome thing to realize.

Photo of Ada Rovatti

Ada Rovatti

Yes, the new generation is much more aggressive, competitive and prepared.

Tim Yehezkely, The Postmarks

On the business side of things there are some differences. For awhile it was just men running the record companies, managing bands, acting as tour agents and promoters around the world. It's still a man's world, but women are becoming more empowered. Sylvia Rhone heads Motown Records and Julie Greenwald is the head of Atlantic Records. I think female artists are also becoming more empowered. Fiona Apple is a great example. From my own experience, I am included in business decisions and even though the men generally take a dominant role, I feel that the men I work with in the music industry do have respect for what I bring to the table. Then there's the revival of the Lilith Fair, a female-driven event, which shows women are becoming more involved on the touring side of things. It's probably a long way off from equality, but at least there are signs of this generation having more female empowerment.

Photo of Christine Smith, Marah

Christine Smith, Marah

I think the more things change, the more they stay the same. That goes for female and male musicians. There's always been good vs. bad, conservative vs. sexy, talent vs. gimmick, longevity vs. popularity, etc.

Rhonda Laurie

Yes. I believe that the more mature female musicians give alot more deference to those that came before them.

Holly Saucy

It's insane how vastly Different and how much the same the generations are. We Imulate but duplication is impossible, certian emotion is born of communal struggle of time and world events. I think we are lacking human connection and real musicianship. Now a days people get a beat sing a song make a YouTube video and viola! Instant fame not much artist development involved anymore.

Photo of Pam Fleming, Fearless Dreamer

Pam Fleming, Fearless Dreamer

Music education has gotten better and better, and there are so many more talented female musicians out there now than ever before, which is great to see - especially in the jazz world. As a trumpet player, it used to be a rare thing to see another female trumpet player- now it is much more common. (I've just never seen so many horn players in high heels and mini-skirts!- That's a generational difference!)

Lily White

About ten years ago, I visited the first music store in Naperville, Illinois, where my mom bought me my first alto. I was in Chicago playing with the back-up band for Jay McShann and picking up some reeds while on the way to visit my parents. At the counter, a young girl came in with her mother and was also buying saxophone reeds. She looked to be about 12 or 13. I thought I should introduce myself to her--to show her the "positive role model" that was me. I smiled at her and asked her which horn she played and whether or not she improvised. Then, I told her that I was a professional jazz musician, and that I had bought my first horn there at that store 26 years ago. The look she gave me said, 'Yeah. So?' Clearly, she was just interested in purchasing her reeds and getting out of there, and had no need for any kind of encouragement from the likes of me. This is, ultimately, the way it should be.

Photo of Paula Kimper

Paula Kimper

Somewhat, women are becoming more centered and powerfully female, less having to act and sound like a man to get a job.

Photo of Amy Domingues, Garland of Hours

Amy Domingues, Garland of Hours

My great-aunt was born in 1904. She was a piano teacher all her life and died in 2000 at the age of 96. I always hated playing the piano for her when she came to visit because she was very critical and slap at my hands if I made a mistake. But she loved the piano and loved teaching and I see that in myself now. But in her era, it was probably more acceptable for a woman to be a piano teacher than to be a performer. I have a close friend , Tina Chancey, who is a successfull folk/early music performer who is in her early 60s, and she has also been a mentor to me lately as I figure out how I relate to music as I get older. I think it's incredibly important for young women musicians to have older mentors.

Katie Morrison, band name Betty Iron Thumbs

A little. It seems like there are very few older women in the industry, although there are still a lot of older men. Courtney Love, Ani DiFranco, and Bjork were my idols, and they were all really gutsy women who put their whole hearts out there. The younger set of women (younger than me...late teens early 20s) seem to be shying away from that. It almost seems like music from women is getting more timid and hokey. For awhile, it seemed like we were playing on the same team as the boys, now it seems like women think need to be wearing pink chiffon with perfect hair.

Photo of Aisha Burns, Balmorhea

Aisha Burns, Balmorhea

I do not. But really I don't know enough older women musicians to make a good judgment.

Virginia Mayhew

Yes, the younger women have no idea how things have changed from 20, 30 or more years ago. Their presence is not so unusual as to be the main topic of conversation (by the public) in any group, and they have a lot more confidence because they didn't have to pave the way, as older female musicians have.

Karen Correa, Demander

Not so much. I think it's easier and more accepted for women to be musicians now, but I think the courage and skill that it takes to succeed are the same.

Melissa Ferrick

"I see more of an interest in women helping other women rather than a competing attitude. I remember a particular meeting i had in 1993 with a William Morris agent where he asked me if I could open for anyone, who would it be. I said ”Annie Lennox” and he laughed and said a woman artist would never be an opener for another woman fronted act.. Four years later Lilith happened, so i guess he was wrong. And besides I think Annie would have said yes :) I also believe, especially amongst queer female artists, that there has been a huge evolution in generosity. I think Ferron paved the way as well as Janis Ian, The Runaways, and Fanny. Back when they started out you wouldn’t have seen them on the same bill with another woman like you do now."

Katherine FitzGibbon

Yes, the generation before me had to fight harder to gain acceptance. I have observed women now in their 50s and 60s with war stories about having to fight to be given opportunities equal to the men of their age. (One of my women teachers was told by her mentor that "it was a shame she had been a woman, she would have made a hell of a conductor.") I think that women today in the conducting field have equal opportunities to have access to training and jobs, but that there are still fewer women with the top positions. People still have subconscious associations with what a conductor should look like and act like that may keep women from some of the top positions; just think about our leadership roles in government and the gradual emergence of women in Congress but the continuing lack of a woman president.

Ingrid Jensen. The Ingrid Jensen quartet

"absolutely. My generation and many of those older than me were put in positions to prove ourselves against the many men in the limelight. Now that there are more role models for the younger generations, both male and female student players have more hope, faith, dream potential, whatever you want to call it. "

Stephanie Flati, The Lopez

Clare Cooper

Very much so - the older women have fought for everything they have, but the younger women don't think about it so much. They're much freer about what they're doing, like young women in most areas of life.

Audrey Silver

I'm not sure a lot has changed for vocalists. However, I think female instrumentalists (at least in the jazz field) are more readily accepted than they were a generation ago.

Lena Dhayni, The Lightning Bugs.

well, i see differences and similarities. patti smith and tori amos, for instance, are from two different generations, but are both passionate and poetic, and write songs about a wide array of subject matter. the birth of mtv and the subsequent popularity of madonna in the eighties was what really made image and beauty a more important part of music: it became a business. more importantly, bands like the x-ray spex, the slits, and the runaways set an early stage for women in punk rock. However, even though they wrote some songs about liberation and sexuality, their approach was more naive than the woman in the riot grrrl movement. I think punk rock so quickly went from being exciting and inclusive to violent and alienating. the women of the riot grrrl movement were more aware of what they were doing. that's why it's called riot grrrl, and not just punk rock. women right now in rock n roll seem so clueless and passive to me. so many of them play the synthesizer, and either play in a band with all men, or sing tame songs with mediocre messages. that's one difference! courtney love, for instance, refuses to sing like a little girl! she growls like a man, and it is very clear what her songs are about. girls right now are growing up listening to female musicians like hannah montana, for instance, who doesn't even write her own songs, which makes her a product in the role of a role-model. it's sick.

Geri Smith

"Yes. There doesn't seem to be such amazement anymore when a woman can play the guitar. No one used to believe women could be good guitarists. Bonnie Raitt was my champion. Many women have come after her that have proven a woman can be as good or better than a man if they are willing to work hard at it.

The worst thing today's young talented women have to face in the Pop Music world is the Britney Spears factor. If you are not a size 2 and gorgeous the industry doesn't take you seriously. You have to have the whole package, and for women The bar is much higher looks wise than it is for men. Before the age of video it was so much more about how talented you were. There are so many more fakes today than there used to be. Ashlee Simpson's SNL meltdown opened people's eyes to what was going on in the industry. It was shameful. The only pop artist I can think of that is not perfect looking is Adell. I should note that R & B and Rap have a lot more female artists that are signed on the basis of talent over looks. "

Noelle R. Nordstrom

We are becoming more and more saturated with pop culture. Many women are being rejected for roles for not being physically what they want. In previous generations I believe it was more about the voice than anything else.

White Widow

I do. The woman who I respect - Marianne Faithful, Pj Harvey, Sandra Bernhard, and Stevie Nicks... are woman of substance. When I listen to their music or watch them perform I get a strong sense that they are the real deal. I think there are a lot of new great performers out there, but I think songwriting has changed. The way music is streamed online, and arenas are packed, it's less intimate.

Alejandra Deheza, School of Seven Bells

I mean there are some notable differences I think. It wasn't until around the early seventies when you saw the first all female rock bands. Being a women in that context was way more of a novelty back then then it is now.

Natalia D.

The one thing that is definitely changing in the opera world, especially (but not exclusively) for women, is that directors and agents cast women based on their looks and figures far more than they ever did before. They are demanding that their female leads be skinnier and prettier than ever before, in many cases, to the detriment of vocal performance. The fat lady with the horns will never be hired. In her place will be a svelte bombshell, whether or not she can sing the part.

Photo of Jenny Hill, Easy Star All-Stars

Jenny Hill, Easy Star All-Stars

Yes--the original vanguard was the group of jazz women instrumentalists from the 1940's and 50's. They had a tough time making careers out of jazz. Later generations owe them a big debt. My college experience in 1978 was also not fun--the men in the jazz dept. were definately discriminating against us. Now I have friends in their 20's who seem to feel that it is an even playing field in college and in gigs.

Sarah Bernat

i think women making music 40 years ago are probably pretty similar to women making music today. you see a few strong female personalities that are able to distinguish themselves in the midst of a mostly male dominated industry (Laurie Anderson, Kim Gordon, Lydia Lunch, Cosi Fanni Tutti), then you have your puppetshow female pop star types who are arguably being put on display by some male mastermind and/or the record industry (the Shaggs, Phil Spector's girl groups, Lady Gaga). it's a tough call on who's who though, as it's pretty much impossible to be an artist or do anything at all without involving both genders figuring in somewhere in the equation.

Shab Bashiri, The Constellations

Again, absolutely. We live in an auto-tune, American idol world. There was a time when female artists were not neccessarily thought of as the most attractive to society, but had some of the most amazing voices heard to this day. You look at Patsy Cline, Aretha Franklin, Etta James... None of those women on paper are what our generation considers sexy. But every one of them has the ability to move you with their voices. You can feel the raw emotion that they put out with every note that they sing, and that's sexy and beautiful to me.

Photo of Emily Rodgers

Emily Rodgers

Yes. Many women have abandoned using their real names and go with pseudonyms, whereas in the past I think that more women used their names and didn't disguise the fact that they are women and that their music is based around their lyrics and voices--a la Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, even Joan Jett.

Mary Chun

Yes. Interestingly enough, in the classical world I see the younger generation of women much more inclined to use their sex to advance their careers. A reflection of today's culture which is so visually-driven, perhaps?

Nicole Binion

Absolutely. Each generation brings it's own style and preference. But basically we are all the same

Psalm One

There is a soulful talent that I feel is lacking with new artists, simply because music isn't always the first priority when it comes to music anymore. Not to say there aren't good female artists right now; that's ludicrous. But a Janis Joplin of today? Not so much.

Photo of Shanna Carlson

Shanna Carlson

Perhaps the women of the younger generations are a bit more "at home" with their music and gender. Of course, I think of women like Mary Lou Williams, for instance, who was writing and playing for and with "the boys" YEARS ago, had a long and wonderful career.

Cat Martino

"Yes of course, there is so much more available due to the women who paved the way! Patti, Joni, Dolly, Liz Phair. Even over the past few years, it is so much more common for a girl to learn guitar as their first instrument, where that felt more rare in the past. Those girls had to be pretty tough cookies.

Someone like Annie Clark of St. Vincent is an obvious example of the newest generation of women that went to Berkeley Music school and can rock any male guitar player under the table, sing, write, record and mix alone digitally, WoW!..... But that is not to say I think that is the ultimate goal or always best results to do it all. Sometimes retaining a purity is nice. Meaning, all circumstances and using what you got are perfect. For example, my friend I sing with, Sharon Van Etten, her music would not be so real and human and as beautiful as it is if she had high class pro training. That is not to say she does not have mad skillz, but a lot of hers comes from instinct and doing and writing with pure heart."

Ginny Owens

I have rewritten my answer to this question multiple times, as I'm having difficulty processing all of my thoughts on the subject. In my early days of staff writing, I found that most of my male co-writers were very confident in their ideas and would nearly always veto mine. I was not nearly as confident in my writing or performing as the males around me seemed to be, but this could have been due to my own challenges that had nothing to do with being a female. (When I had some success as an artist, most of the males changed their tune and began to listen to my ideas.) On the other hand, I've spent the past 12 years primarily dealing with men--on the road, in the studio, and at the co-writing table, and I've usually felt respected and accepted. (I am also totally blind and have always found the music industry to be more accepting of me than any other social or business circle I'm a part of.) This being said, I do not typically enjoy working with males in the music world who are younger than my generation. I usually find them to be overconfident and disrespectful. The younger female musicians I've worked with have been very talented, hard-working, and respectful, but I have had only a few opportunities to work with female musicians. My final thought is that it seems that the music-listening-buying audience is primarily female, and females typically love males. So I think it's easier for males to rise to the top--especially as artists--than it is for females. But in the studio or as part of a backing band, talent and proficiency matter more than gender.
Based on my experiences teaching singer/songwriters at a university and watching singer/songwriters perform on the road, I would say that the younger generation is much more confident in their abilities and perhaps less aware of the needs and desires of their audience. And most young musicians I know think they are awesome, whether they are or not. I remember having a sense of awe when working with writers or musicians who had been in the "business" for awhile. I don't sense much of that sort of awe or respect from the younger generation.

Suni Paz

Today, women are more forward, know how to hold their own ground and know how to make decisions and push when necessary.

Photo of Anne Akiko Meyers

Anne Akiko Meyers

Marketing oneself these days is so important. With all the social networks, websites, direct access to audiences and fans, it's important to show what one is doing as it generates more interest in one's art. No hiding behind a great curtain anymore...this is the biggest difference I think.

Photo of Sondra Radvanovsky

Sondra Radvanovsky

Unfortunately, not too much in the operatic world. Men still make more $$ than the women, etc.

Rachael Rine of Cockpit

I can only assume that previous generations of women had a lot more resistance as they blazed the trail.

Linda Lou - Cockpit

i see more similarities then differences... we're still more of anomaly then we should be at this point.

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Allison Iraheta

Yes - I think compared to generations of women musicians in the past there has been many changes, especially with the overall music style and sound.

Photo of Allison Scola

Allison Scola

I think we all have challenges to face. They may be different from our older sisters, but we've got challenges too.

Elizabeth Brown

"Yes! Younger women take for granted many of the opportunities that older women had to fight for.

In the classical freelance world, older women feel they should be hired because of their experience; younger (attractive) women often replace them, especially if the contractor is a man, and most are men. So there can be some bad feelings."

Anat Fort

as with women in general, women musicians are more open and daring nowadays than they used to be. there are also much more of us, at least in the jazz world. but speaking of the jazz world, I think women in that field have always been different-especially women instrumentalists-than other women musicians. the profession requires so much of you that not a lot of people (men and women alike) will be willing to devote their life to it, and that's what it means. so i think the women who have done it in the past were of the same kind they are now--only now it's a bit easier and so there are more of us.

Photo of Christine Brewer

Christine Brewer

I think it is difficult for young artists starting out today. So many of the smaller opera companies which are great for trying out roles have folded because of the poor economy. Young artists have more difficulty finding places to learn their craft and also earn a living. I am fortunate, because the type of repertoire I sing is traditionally sung by singers in their 40's and 50's. My career started a bit later, but will also last a bit longer. The more dramatic and bigger voices just develop later. I am looking down the road and planning my next career when my "limited commodity" doesn't work the same way!

Stephanie Schneiderman

"Definitely, I think that the paradigm for women has changed and that includes the music industry as well. There are so many role models of women who run their own show from top to bottom. From Madonna to Imogen Heap...

There are more female musicains out there as drummers, bassists, guitarists. I think there's a still long way to go but there's a big difference already. "

Nedra Johnson

The younger the more freely expressive... I think that's true anyway. It's exciting to hear. Young women have it a little easier these days. And anyone independent has it easier. You can make a CD on your laptop now. It's not like years ago when you had to come up with tens of thousands of dollars.

Marilyn Crispell

I think any women who have made their way out there in the jazz/improvised music realm have been talented and confident, and more or less committed to what they were doing- I do think that it's more common today to see women performers, particularly on instruments other than voice or piano- also, there seem to be a lot of wonderful women composers on the scene today in all the realms of music.

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Danielle de Niese

I think we are as strong as ever! :) girl power!

Photo of Anji Bee of Lovespirals

Anji Bee of Lovespirals

Keeping to my own forte as a women vocalist, the biggest difference I see with the new generation is that women are relying more on pitch correction software and harmonizing effects than vocal skills. I grew up in an era when people still sang naturally and composed their own harmonies.

Kate Simko

More women are producing their own music from start-to-finish in this generation, which is great!

Grace Potter; Grace Potter And The Nocturnals

I see musicians like Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris as more than just musical icons, they are planets, with a gravitational pull - from how they flip their hair just-so when they bow, right down to their hearty backstage banter. It takes decades to learn the innuendos of being gracious and genuine all at once. I'm not sure that I - or any other female musicians of my generation will ever quite do it with such effortless mystique.

Lynne Hanson

Yes I think there are differences, reflecting my comments from above. I think the women who are veterans in this industry, like in all other sectors, have opened doors for those that are coming up behind them.

Mary Lorson and the Soubrettes

Yes....that is, I think so? I think (I hope) I see a more relaxed and confident generation of young women in the world today, not so anxious about sexism, not so squashed or deferential. I hope.

Pamela Marshall, Spindrift Music Company

I think the issues for younger composers are that the field is saturated and it's hard to get performances by top ensembles, for either women or men. For the women just out of school, there seems to be an egalitarian atmosphere of cooperation for self-produced concerts. Whether equal opportunity and cooperation will persist is an open question. I don't see a lot of progress in programming works by women in established ensembles. One piece per program is "diversity", and many ensembles don't have more than one piece by a woman per season. I haven't done a count, but that's how I perceive the concert programming in the Boston area.

Lydia Fortune

I see young women today as being more proficient with musical technique and training. I don't see the hesitancy and insecurity that women my age had. In regard to insecurity, in this area, accomplished and recognized jazz singers still worry about competition. This, I believe, is totally unnecessary.

Mary Jennings

Oh definitely! I think with each generation it gets easier to be yourself when you are a woman. I think certain expectations of appearance will always be there, but it is our responsibility to break through those expectations.

Maranda Mae of The Texas Duet

Yes. I believe that women today are able to do more with their music if given the chance. Back then there were more things that were looked down on coming from a woman.

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