Farrugia, R. and T. Swiss. 2008. “Producing Producers: Women and Electronic/Dance Music.”

Farrugia, Rebekah and Thom Swiss. 2008. “Producing Producers: Women and Electronic/Dance Music.”  Current Musicology 86(Fall): 79-99.

Woman in introduction of study reported micro-aggression: theft of small piece of equipment (power strip) before her performance.  Study attempts to identify barriers to women’s entry into E/DM production (in 2008, claimed as in infancy): networking with male producers, navigating masculinist studio spaces, technical language that seeks to exclude women (see also Porcello 1991), dealing with audiences and people within industry who look to exploit women based upon their vulnerable positions/lack of mentorship or know-how, building ‘own brand’ when producers/promoters overlook women artists, external social, familial, and work responsibilities,  lack of confidence in own abilities to navigate EDM production/distribution, men’s predominant ownership of “gear” – heavy buy-in costs with little return pay-off – that many men avoid through using other men’s equipment through informal social networks, isolated learning process (usually tutored by men, sessions brief and non-social) – highly technical learning process, difficulty in finding established, consistent, comfortable mentor, as many men are unwilling to share position/knowledge of controlling sound (see also Sandstrom 2000), limits hands-on training for women; superficial representations of female DJs in media – often sexualized, fragmented, or commodified – or elsewise, anonymized.

Women are encouraged by the presence of other women in scenes – men’s removal from scenes encourages women’s confidence in participation/membership (Cockburn 1985; Rose 1994; Baker 2008); however, many interviewed DJs in study reflect a postfeminist turn that situates their success as their own, a result of their own agentic choices. Other sites of change – shifting the gendered conceptualizations of what technology is and how it can be used, the frameworks of music education, “get ‘em while they’re young” – socializing the next generation of women in EDM and providing appropriate mentorship, the external contexts within scene, industry, mainstream culture by which women’s participation in EDM are restricted.

Women’s marginalization/overlook/writing out of genre histories in EDM similar to other popular music genres – such as punk (Reddington 2003), hip-hop (Rose 1994; Guevara 1996; Pough 2004); and, indie rock (Kruse 2003; Leonard 2006) – kx – although these genres work to subvert mainstream norms and conventions in popular music, there is a notable repression of women within these fields regardless – they are more open to change than other mainstream industry genres, but still supports ‘the white, patriarchal structures of the mainstream music establishment’ (Kruse 1993: 40, quoted here on 83).

Most DJs and producers within dance music industry are men (Fikentscher 2000; Reynolds 1999), few women found in other industry positions of power (i.e. label owners, venue managers).

McRobbie, writing on EDM – after observing gender disparity in music industry since late 1980s: “it is still much easier for girls to develop skills in those fields which are less contested by men than it is in those already occupied by them. Selling clothes, stage-managing at concerts, handing out publicity leaflets, or simply looking the part, are spheres in which a female presence somehow seems natural” (1994:145).




Baker, Sarah. 2008. “From Snuggling and Snogging to Sampling and Scratching: Girls’ Nonparticipation in Community-Based Music Activities.” Youth and Society 39(3): 316–39.

Cockburn, Cynthia. 1985. Machinery of Dominance: Women, Men, and Technical Know-how. Dover, NH: Pluto.

Fikentscher, Kai. 2000. “You Better Work!” Underground Dance Music in New York City. Hanover, NH, and London: Wesleyan University Press.

Guervara, Nancy. 1996. Women Writin’ Rappin’ Breakin’. Pp. 49-62 in Droppin’ Science: Critical Essays on Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture, edited by William Eric Perkins. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Kruse, Holly. 1993. “Subcultural Identity in Alternative Music.” Popular Music 12(1): 33–41.

Kruse, Holly. 2003. Site and Sound: Understanding Independent Music Scenes. New York: Peter Lang.

Leonard, Marion. 2006. Gender in the Music Industry. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing.

McRobbie, Angela. 1994. Postmodern and Popular Culture. London and New York: Routledge.

Porcello, Thomas. 1991. “Speaking of Sound: Language and the Professionalization of Sound- Recording Engineers.” Social Studies of Science 34(5): 733–58.

Pough, Gwendolyn. 2004. Check It While I Wreck It: Black Womanhood, Hip Hop Culture, and the Public Sphere. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

Reddington, Helen. 2003. “’Lady’ Punks in Bands: A Subculturette?” Pp. 239-251 in The Post Subcultures Reader, edited by David Muggleton & Scott Weinzierl. New York: Berg.

Reynolds, Simon. 1999. Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture. New York: Routledge.

Rose, Tricia. 1994. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press.

Sandstrom, Boden. 2000. “Women Mix Engineers and the Power of Sound.” Pp. 289-305 in Music and Gender, edited by Pirkko Moisala and Beverly Diamond. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

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