The bad news with the Grammys is that, whether or not it’s intentional, the biggest night in music has a problem with female representation. The good news, though, is that they realize this and are looking to make some changes to bring more balance to the situation: Grammy President Neil Portnow said last month that the Recording Academy would create an
“independent task force” that will “review every aspect of what we do as an organization and identify where we can do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community.”
Now this task force is becoming more and more crystallized, and today, Portnow has announced that a leader for the task force has been chosen: Tina Tchen, a woman who is supremely qualified for the position. Tchen is a lawyer whose impressive resume includes co-founding the Time’s Up movement and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, and previously serving as chief of staff to former First Lady Michelle Obama. As for the rest of the task force, “about half of the 15 to 20 member team” has been lined up, according to Billboard.
Tchen spoke with Billboard about the announcement, and said that the task force won’t bring about any overnight changes, that it will be a slow burn of effort that leads to results:
“Gender discrimination has transcended time, geography and culture. It’s been around in every kind of workplace, in our homes and schools. So it’s going to take us longer than an awards cycle or two to really address these issues in any industry because we’re dealing with a broader cultural attitude around women, women in power and the quality of diversity. It’s going to take sustained effort and sustained conversation in keeping this in the public eye even when it’s not the topic of the day. We need to be diligent and patient but also have a real commitment to making changes. I look forward to doing that work with the Recording Academy.”
In a statement, Portnow says that choosing somebody from outside of the music industry is important for maintaining impartiality in the task force:
“The fact that she lacks business ties to the music industry ensures her objectivity as chair. In this moment, the Recording Academy can do more than reflect what currently exists; we can help lead the industry into becoming the inclusive music community we want it to be — a responsibility that the board and I take seriously. Tina Tchen is an accomplished advocate for women and impact-oriented leader versed in convening disparate stakeholders for a common purpose.”
Read the rest of Tchen’s interview here.