2020 ACM Awards: Still overwhelmingly a boys’ club despite a few noms for women in top categories

Carrie Underwood Country MIRANDA LAMBERT

There is a woman nominated in every major category they were eligible in at the 2020 Academy of Country Music Awards, so women have shattered country music’s glass ceiling once and for all, right? I wouldn’t go that far. Female acts are in the minority in almost every one of those categories. And though there is a woman nominated for Entertainer of the Year for the first time in three years (Carrie Underwood), she’s still the only one out of the five.

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The ACM Awards have presented their Entertainer of the Year prize 49 times to date. Only 10 of those times has the winner been a woman. Underwood actually did it twice; she prevailed in 2009 and 2010. And she’s joined on that short list by Loretta Lynn (1975), Dolly Parton (1978), Barbara Mandrell (1981), Reba McEntire (1995), Shania Twain (2000), Dixie Chicks (2001) and Taylor Swift (2011-2012).

As you can see, Underwood and Swift are the only women who have ever won twice. And it’s probably no coincidence that they won their awards during the eight year period when Entertainer of the Year was voted on by fans. Music listeners seem to be more appreciative of female artists than their industry peers are.

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You can’t win Entertainer of the Year if you’re not even nominated. In the last 10 years women have accounted for just 11 out of 51 nominations in the top category (22%). It’s even worse when you narrow it down to just the last five years, when women earned 3 out of the 25 Entertainer of the Year nominations (12%).

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And it’s not just Entertainer of the Year. This year female artists are represented in just one of the five nominees for Duo of the Year (Maddie and Tae), two of the five nominees for Album of the Year (Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris), two of the five nominees for Single of the Year (Kacey Musgraves and mixed-gender group Lady Antebellum), one of the five nominees for Song of the Year (Ashley McBryde), one of the five nominees for Video of the Year (the mixed-gender group Little Big Town), and one of the five nominees for Songwriter of the Year (Hillary Lindsey).

The only non-gendered category where women are represented in most of the nominees is Group of the Year, where Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and The Highwomen are in the running; The Highwomen are the only group there that is exclusively female. So country music still has a long way to go.

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