The GuardianThe Guardian

Why are there so few women headlining music festivals?

By Rhian Jones

06 Mar 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

In the U.K., just 13% of all headliners at the top 50 festivals were female. The Guardian argues that this lack of diversity is due to the industry deprioritizing women for years.

Glastonbury caused consternation when it announced three male headliners this year, but it is far from the only event to have a complete lack of gender equality at the top of its bill. Latitude festival, End of the Road, All Points East and TRNSMT are just a few examples of major events that have no women headlining in 2023, and last year, a BBC report found that just 13% of UK headliners at the top 50 festivals were female.

Researcher Vick Bain, who set up The F-List – an online directory of female and gender minority musicians available to play at festivals – says the issue spans the entire music ecosystem; from inequality in education to barriers in the music business. “There’s still a lot of sexism, and that can be overt or covert, and a lot of stereotyping, which is restrictive to women,” she says. “Women in music education will be encouraged to go into music teaching, rather than performing, or will be rewarded to be singers rather than instrumentalists.

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