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Female executives in the music industry want Recording Academy president Neil Portnow to know that time is up.
Over a dozen executives penned a letter to Portnow calling for his resignation after he said the Grammys lacked female representation because female musicians need to “step up” in the industry.
“We step up every single day and have been doing so for a long time,” the letter said. “The fact that you don’t realize this means it’s time for you to step down. Today we are stepping up and stepping in to demand your resignation.”
The letter then lists statistics of gender discrepancy in the recording industry and at the Grammys and discusses how opportunities in the industry aren’t accessible to women and people of color in the same way that they are for white men. The full letter can be read at the Hollywood Reporter.
Dear Mr. Neil Portnow,
The statement you made this week about women in music needing to “step up” was spectacularly wrong and insulting and, at its core, oblivious to the vast body of work created by and with women. Your attempt to backpedal only emphasizes your refusal to recognize us and our achievements. Your most recent remarks do not constitute recognition of women’s achievements, but rather a call for men to take action to “welcome” women. We do not await your welcome into the fraternity. We do not have to sing louder, jump higher or be nicer to prove ourselves.
The executives aren’t the only people fed up with the status quo at the Grammys; a petition has been circulating online calling for Portnow to step down. It has over 13,000 signatures.
Now that his job is on the line, Portnow seems to be listening. On Thursday, he apologized for his poor choice of words and announced an independent task force that will look into ways the Recording Academy can support female advancement in the industry, according to Variety.
“I appreciate that the issue of gender bias needs to be addressed in our industry, and share in the urgency to attack it head on,” he wrote. “We as an organization, and I as its leader, pledge our commitment to doing that.”
Portnow’s efforts seem to be too little too late, however.
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.