Is There a Gender Gap in the Novelty of Creative Products? Evidence From the Global Music Industry, 1955–2000

Despite the large numbers of women trained and employed in creative fields, perceptions of creative achievement remain biased by gender. Most recent efforts to understand this puzzle focus on “demand-side” explanations: the extent to which audiences assign less value to creative products made by women. In contrast, this paper identifies the extent to which there is a gender gap in the novelty of creative products themselves. Using an exhaustive dataset comprised of nearly 500,000 songs released between 1955 and 2000, we 1/ construct a measure of musical novelty and 2/ investigate whether and when there are systematic differences in creative output by gender. We find that, while there is no mean difference in song novelty for male versus female artists, certain factors —including artist tenure, success, category membership, organizational affiliation, and network size and composition— create systematic inequalities in creative output. These results suggest that female artists are held to a higher bar than their male counterparts, and only the creative (women) survive.

Don’t miss Noah’s interview, by our fabulous PhDs

Interview by STORM Post-doctoral fellow Thinley Tharchen and emlyon Ph.D. student Laura Dupin. Editing by emlyon Ph.D. student Laura Dupin.