Social media users began using the hashtag #GrammysSoMale to express their frustration with the male-dominated show. Alessia Cara was the only woman to win a major award at Sunday’s show, taking home the “Best New Artist” statuette. SZA, who was the most-nominated woman at this year’s Grammys, went home empty handed. Lorde, the only woman to be nominated for Album of the Year, lost to Bruno Mars who won for “24K Magic.”
During the show, Kesha — flanked by a chorus of all-star female vocalists — performed “Praying,” her first single since her years-long legal battle with music producer Dr. Luke, who she accused of sexual assault. (Dr. Luke denies her allegations.) Critics called the emotional performance a highlight of the night and a powerful #MeToo movement statement — but the song lost out to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” for Best Pop Solo Performance.
A report from the University of California published on Jan. 25 found that out of the 899 people nominated for Grammy Awards between 2013 and 2018, only 9% were women.
In response to the criticism, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow told journalists after the show that women should “step up.”
“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,” Portnow said.
The Grammys have been criticized for its lack of gender and racial diversity in the past, but this year’s nominations received praise for their inclusion. The scarcity of female winners comes amid #TimesUp, a movement launched by several Hollywood women to fight sexual harassment and gender inequality. At the Grammys, several celebrities wore white roses to Sunday’s show to show solidarity with the initiative.