The Brit Awards and gender: A shift in attitude or just for show?

Little Mix accept the award for Best British Group during the Brit Awards 2021 at the O2 Arena, Lond

Little Mix accept the award for Best British Group during the Brit Awards 2021 at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Tuesday May 11, 2021. - Credit: PA Images

This year's Brit Awards was a bit of an anomaly - and not just because of a global pandemic. 

Female acts made history and took centre stage at the 41st annual Brit awards, landing six out of seven wins in the mixed-gender categories. 

Only the inescapable Watermelon Sugar by Harry Styles’ broke the trend. 

X-Factor winners Little Mix are the first ever female group to win Best British Group, and Dua Lipa, Arlo Parks, Griff, Haim and Taylor Swift were also amongst the female winners of the night. 

Acts called out the awards ceremony for not celebrating female artists enough in their acceptance speeches and criticised the male-dominated industry for under-representation of females. 

As a stark contrast to the dismal female representation in the 2020 nominations, the winners of the night signify a shift in gender disparity and its finally looking like a thing of the past for the Brit Awards.  

In a time where girl groups and artists have been integral to British music history (Spice Girls, Joss Stone, Shirley Bassey, Annie Lennox, Amy Winehouse, the list could go on), it just doesn’t make sense that the annual showcase to celebrate the biggest successes in music wouldn’t acknowledge female acts. 

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However, The Brit Awards offer nominee slots for eligible artists and bands that had achieved top 40 success and, on that basis, the 2020 nominations were accurate.

If you take a look at the top 40 best-selling albums of 2019, only two released were from British female acts. 

So, what does this tell us about gender disparity and the Brits?  

Simply put, the music industry is to blame.  

This year's winners could be looked at as a box-ticking exercise, or a mere reaction to the outrage of 2020’s results, but if you pay attention to music trends, the results of the 2021 Brit Awards is more a reflection of the changes in attitude towards women in music as a whole. 

The shift in gender imbalance suggests that the industry might finally be putting as much effort into supporting up and coming female artists as it has for the Harry Styles’ and Robbie Williams’ over the last 30 years.