Music | March 6, 2020 1:06 pm

New Study Claims Female Artists Are More Creative Than Men

Researchers found that female musicians tend to create "more novel songs"

Billie Eilish accepting a Grammy Award
Billie Eilish accepts the Best New Artist award onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty

A new study has found that women are involved in creative fields (including art, music and literature) at higher rates than men, and as Rolling Stone points out, researchers have also determined that female musicians tend to be generally more creative than their male counterparts.

To reach that conclusion, Michael Mauskapf of Columbia Business School, Noah Askin of INSEAD, Sharon Koppman of UC Irvine and Brian Uzzi of Northwestern pulled data from 250,000 songs produced and released between 1955 and 2000 and found that “female artists actually create more novel songs — works that are more musically fresh and unusual — than male artists.” (You can read more about their methodology here, but they analyzed standard musical elements like tempo, key and time signature as well as factors like “valence,” “danceability,” “acousticness,” “energy,” “liveness” and “speechiness.”)

“The tendency for women’s performance to be discounted reflects a much broader phenomenon inside and outside organizations,” the study notes. “For the same levels of performance, women tend to receive more negative evaluations than men, and they have to outperform men to receive comparable evaluations. To overcome this ‘double standard,’ female minorities work harder.”

They also keyed in on three variables that affect career advancement in creative fields — collaboration network size, network composition, and genre compositions — and found that female artists might be benefitting from women’s willingness to be more collaborative than men. “In the context of creative production, female artists may actually benefit more from large collaboration networks than male artists,” they wrote. “The latter are constrained by expectations that ‘real men’ do not engage in behaviors like seeking help.”

Ultimately, the researchers hope their findings can put an end to sexist notions that women in music simply need to “step up” if they’re interested in receiving the same opportunities as male artists.

“These results suggest that social factors, rather than differences in raw ability, are responsible for gender disparities in creative production,” the study reads.

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