Women in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened a temporary exhibit last year called “Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power.” At the time, there was quite a bit of discussion about the exhibit and the fashion sideshow of it all, exemplified by Lady Gaga’s meat dress on display. One important element that wasn’t discussed enough was the actual number of women inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame itself.

We were inspired to delve into this further after reading this recent tweet:

Are you kidding me? Only 4% of the inductees @rock_hall are women??! What can be done about that? #Cleveland

— Folk 'N Great Music(@FolkNGreat) August 26, 2012
Now, we have done some rough calculations on this subject previously, and 4% seemed awfully low, so we went ahead and counted up all of the inductees (including every inducted member of groups).

Induction Category# of Hall of Famers# of Women% Women
Early Influence*50612%
Lifetime Achievement700%
Sideman / Musical Excellence1900%

Some additional data points:

  • Of the 186 performers inducted, 31 include at least one woman (16.7%).
  • There are 98 duos and groups that have been inducted in the performer category, accounting for 494 of the inductees. Of these, there are 36 women from 19 groups.
  • Of the 88 individuals inducted in the performer category, there are 12 women (13.6%).
  • There are no women in the “Clyde McPhatter Club” -- Hall of Famers inducted multiple times.
  • In 1986, 1992, 2001, 2003 and 2004, no women were inducted.

It’s difficult to find a similar institution to compare to the Rock Hall. (For example, the Baseball Hall of Fame only has one woman inductee!) Another music industry benchmark might be the Grammy Awards. Their marquee award, Album of the Year, has included a woman 31% of the time (17 out of 54). This issue isn’t exclusive to music. In the U.S., only 5% of the art on display at museums is made by women.

After all of the “Women Who Rock” publicity last year, many of us thought that might inspire a more female-centric 2012 induction ballot. When the finalists were announced, five of the fifteen were women, a relatively high percentage by Rock Hall standards. But after the voting, and when it was all said and done, out of the 69 trophies handed out at the Induction Ceremony in Cleveland this year, just two went to women.

* - We haven’t been able to fully document all of the inducted members of Early Influence groups. This may be where the discrepancy lies between our total number of inductees. The Rock Hall lists 681 and we counted 685. The percentages of women remain largely unaffected either way.

See also: Heart wants to break into the “brotherhood”

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