The body that administers the Grammys vowed Thursday to do more to tackle gender bias after female artists voiced outrage over the lack of awards for women and controversial comments from the organization’s chief.
The Recording Academy, which is comprised of 13,000 music professionals who vote on the industry’s most prestigious awards, said it was setting up an independent task force to examine the role of gender in the awards.
The task force 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,” the Academy’s president and CEO, Neil Portnow, said in a statement.
“We will also place ourselves under a microscope and tackle whatever truths are revealed,” he said.
Portnow, a music producer and label executive who has headed the Recording Academy since 2002, caused a furor on Sunday in a customary press appearance after the awards.
Portnow said that the music industry needed to show a “welcome mat” to women and increase mentorship to new professionals — but he raised eyebrows as he explained how female artists could win more awards.
“I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls who want to be musicians… to step up, because I think they would be welcome,” Portnow said.
Pop singers Katy Perry and P!nk were among the prominent women who took Portnow to task for his remarks.
“Women in music don’t need to ‘step up’ — women have been stepping since the beginning of time,” P!nk, who performed at the Grammys, said in a handwritten note she posted on Twitter.