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Why are women headliners still not the standard at music festivals?

Sexism in the music industry is a hot button issue, thanks to powerhouse artists including Taylor Swift, Dua LipaAriana Grande, and others speaking out about their experiences. The impact of some of our favorite female performers using their voices has not yet trickled down to one important segment of the industry, however: the music festival scene. 

One glance at the Coachella 2020 lineup reveals the distinct absence of a major group of musicians: women. Yes, you heard that right: not a single one of Coachella’s headliners this year are female. The second tier of acts reveals something even more dismal. On Friday and Saturday combined, only two second line ranked performers are women. 

InStyle summarized it best with a tweet that expressed its disapproval.

“Sure, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Ariana Grande were featured the past three years in headlining slots (one per year, because of course there could never be two), but this year’s lineup sends a clear message that even the token single slot isn’t necessary,” the linked article reads. “In 2020, Coachella once again made a decision to diminish the work of female artists.” 

Coachella wasn’t the only nationally known music festival whose lineup lacked female artists as headliners, however; Boston Calling’s lineup was also lacking.

By contrast, the Governor’s Ball Music Festival included a variety of female performers as headliners, including Miley Cyrus, Missy Elliot, H.E.R., Stevie Nicks, and Solange. 

Similar to Governor’s Ball, Bonnaroo’s lineup thankfully does feature female artists as headliners (did anyone say Lizzo?!). But the mere fact that it’s shocking when women artists are headliners speaks for itself. 

The gap between the number of men and women as headliners is tremendous, and that’s where the isuse lies. It’s clear that there’s only one question to ask. Why are female headliners still not the standard at music festivals? Every single festival mentioned has at least one male headliner (most have more than one). Why can’t we say the same about women?   Here’s hoping music festival season 2021 reveals something different. 

Madison is a senior journalism student at Marist College with an affinity for all things writing, iced coffee, and Great Gatsby related. She is currently a Lifestyles & Her Future writer for Her Campus.