Why don't we hear more women on country radio?

The q This music panel discuss female representation in the country music scene.
The Highwomen is the new supergroup made up of musicians Amanda Shires, Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile and Natalie Hemby. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Every Friday, the q This panel looks at the biggest stories in music news. Today, contributor to the music site Pitchfork and producer on Stuart Berman and Toronto writer and country music fan Sarah Boesveld join q host Tom Power to take a closer look at how women are succeeding in today's country music scene.

The conversation comes the day of the release of the highly anticipated debut record by The Highwomen and just before the Canadian Country Music Association Awards in Calgary on Sunday night.

The Highwomen is the new super-group made up of four musicians spanning from the country, folk and Americana music scenes: Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris and Natalie Hemby. Amanda Shires curated the idea for the group while she was touring and noticed that there were few female voices playing on country radio. 

University of Ottawa Professor Jada Watson noticed the same. She released a research study today called Gender Representation on Canadian Country Format Radio. Watson's study explores the presence of female artists on Canadian country radio. 

The study suggests the presence of female country artists is declining. On average, across the last 14 years, if a listener tunes into a Canadian country music station, for every five or so songs they hear by a male artist, they will hear only one by a female artist.

Watson's study shows the ratio of songs by men on women played on country music radio. (Jada Watson )

Watson's findings also show that for just 2018, that ratio becomes even more pronounced: last year, on Canadian country radio, for every eight or so songs programmed by a male artist, you'd only hear one by a female artist.

The study explores the ratio of spins for male to female artists on Canadian country music radio stations. (Jada Watson)

You can check out Watson's previous research into the country music industry here

— Produced by Emma Godmere

*Click 'Listen' near the top of the page to hear the full segment.

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