Is The Rock Industry Still Seen as a Man's World? Reading and Leeds Would Think So!

Reading and Leeds Festival is arguably the world’s biggest rock festival, dragging crowds of ketamine-sniffers and bucket-hat-wearers from all over the globe.
But is the rock industry still male dominated and -dare I say it- a tad sexist?

For arguments sake, let’s take the Reading and Leeds initial line-ups from the last five years and compare the amount of all female or mixed gender bands we can count. Gender inequality has always been debated in relation to festival line ups, so let’s look at the issue and see if it has improved over the last five years.
(Spoiler alert: it hasn’t)


2011 saw the famous ‘SlutWalk’, that was described as “the most successful feminism movement in 20 years”. When looking at the Reading line up for 2012, just merely one year later, it seems all the controversy and hard work for feminism to get noticed was ignored. With just under 10 of the main acts containing a female, it seems Reading and Leeds could still be conforming to the stereotype that the rock scene is a man’s world.


2013 saw a big decrease in all female and mixed bands in the initial line-up, with a pitiful five bands announced being lucky enough to have a female member.
Also, if you check out the official website’s write up after the festival, you shall find no mention of any of the female bands…. (just saying).


2014 was a slight improvement, and by ‘slight’ I mean, the improvement is barely worth mentioning. With seven mixed-gender bands initially announced to headline, it seems Reading and Leeds festival is stuck in the ideology that all-male bands are the best option for their festival. It is also worth pointing out that Paramore, fronted by Hayley Williams, co-headlined alongside Queens of the Stone Age and a lot of the reviews after the night were comparison pieces between the two bands.


Music blogger, Josh Dalton, created this mock up version of the full R+L line-up. Dalton removed all the bands apart from those with at least one female member. The results show only 9 acts over the whole festival.
Wolf Alice and Marmozets were the only female-fronted acts to play a main stage however, they were still only given the afternoon slots as opposed to the evening ones. Obviously.


2016 sees just four bands containing a female member. The amount of mixed gender bands at Reading and Leeds is proving to be going backwards with their figures, despite the constant battle for gender equality.


The year we have all been waiting for. Reading and Leeds have finally presented us with the highly-anticipated, first wave of line up.
Despite it being a bit, well, crap, how many bands can you count there with a female member?
I can count just one.

But we need to question WHY there aren’t as many female acts in festival line-ups. Not just Reading and Leeds though. Yes, I’m looking at you Isle of Wight…

Perhaps male dominated bands are put on at festivals as they really do drag a bigger crowd; however, this could be down to the fact that the rock scene is still seen stereotypically as a male environment. Sigh.
There is also the opposing argument that there aren’t as many successful female rock bands out there who would be fitting for the Reading and Leeds line-up. Which is also a load of nonsense.
2016 was a tremendous year for female-fronted, all female and mixed bands (to name a few, Pretty Reckless, Deap Vally, Black Honey, Creeper etc.).
Surely that should be celebrated at one of the world’s biggest rock festivals?
And perhaps those small-minded enough to still believe the rock industry is for men, should consider the fact that maybe there would be more female bands being formed if they saw other females rocking out on the main stages at festivals


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I don't think it's the fault of the festival or even the music industry. It just seems that more males choose to be in rock bands than females. An odd trend, but it seems to be the case. There's enough females in music, and quite a few have enjoyed succesful careers, but alternative rock in particular is more male dominated.

    I was a teenager when rock music was really the in thing. Bands like The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon just took over. Everyone loved those bands, even people who didn't normally listen to rock. But out of all the people I knew who went and formed bands, an overwhelming majority were male.

    Reading and Leeds haven't had a genuinely exciting line-up since about 2010 and 2011 so the male to female ratio never really matters to me either way. People of many different identities are represented within my own personal taste - and that's more important to me than the gender of a singer of a band I've never heard of.

    Also those 2013 and 2016 posters aren't the complete line-ups.


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