Where are all the women? According to Rolling Stone‘s just-published rankings of the biggest songs and albums of the first half of 2020, female artists are vastly underrepresented. Among the Top 100, there are only 19 songs and 17 albums by women.
When compared with all of 2019, the number of woman-led songs is down by seven percent. The number of woman-led albums, meanwhile, has increased by one. The midyear songs and albums rankings are measured by song and album units, which combine sales and on-demand audio streams using a custom weighting system, and does not include passive listening such as terrestrial radio or digital radio.
On the songs chart, Dua Lipa prevails at Number Four with her smash “Don’t Start Now.” She’s immediately followed by Doja Cat’s “Say So” and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” at Number Five and Number Six, respectively. Here, the Top 10 also holds Tones and I’s viral hit “Dance Monkey” at Number Eight. So even though 40 percent of Top 10 songs are by women, the 100-song chart is only 19 percent female.
Billie Eilish is the lone woman in the Top 10 albums in the first half of the year, as When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, which was released more than a year ago, sits at Number Nine. Eilish is also the sole woman with two entries on the album chart — her Don’t Smile at Me EP is Number 49.
Even though Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez are the only women whose 2020 albums debuted at Number One on release week, both artists are relatively low on the year-so-far chart. Lady Gaga’s Chromatica is Number 19 — behind a two-year-old Juice WRLD album — and Gomez’s Rare is Number 37.
While there are likely a number of factors that contribute to the underrepresentation of women, it’s not a result of women not “stepping up”: A study from music researchers found that women are engaged in creative fields like art, music, and literature at higher rates than men.
As Stacy Smith, a communications professor who founded USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, told Rolling Stone in 2019: “The qualitative portion really illuminates that being female is, in and of itself, a barrier facing women navigating the space.”