Recording Academy President Neil Portnow has announced the forming of a task force intended to "overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community." The announcement came after Portnow received criticism for remarks he made regarding the lack of Grammy recognition for women.
Following the awards ceremony, Portnow told reporters:
I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls — who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on an executive level — to step up, because I think they would be welcome. I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it’s upon us — us as an industry — to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists.
Many people took issue with the term "step up," and called for Portnow to step down:
The following day, Portnow apologized and tried to clarify his comments:
Last night, I was asked a question about the lack of female artist representation in certain categories of this year's Grammy Awards. Regrettably, I used two words, “step up,” that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make .
Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced. We must actively work to eliminate these barriers and encourage women to live their dreams and express their passion and creativity through music. We must welcome, mentor, and empower them. Our community will be richer for it. I regret that I wasn't as articulate as I should have been in conveying this thought. I remain committed to doing everything I can to make our music community a better, safer, and more representative place for everyone.
That didn't fly, and many still want Portnow to resign. Instead, he released a statement about the task force:
But people still have doubts:
Over a dozen female record execs wrote 2 Portnow+said his comments were "spectacularly wrong," that he was "oblivious to the vast body of work created by and with women." The letter listed stats of gender disparity in the record industry+at the Grammys. https://t.co/kTeF7sHyx7— Lisa Liebman (@LisaLiebmanNYC) February 2, 2018
The first recommendation of that task force should be getting rid or Portnow— CatheyStamps (@catheystamps2) February 2, 2018
It's time for change. We'll see if this task force is up to the task.