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​Annie Mac on women in music: “We shouldn’t be grateful. It should be a given”

The DJ spoke up about "tokenism" in the music industry

  • Gemma Ross
  • 6 July 2021
​Annie Mac on women in music: “We shouldn’t be grateful. It should be a given”

Irish radio presenter and DJ Annie Mac has spoken to the Radio Times about her experience as a woman in the music industry following her departure from BBC Radio 1.

After 17 years at the radio station, Annie Mac revealed in April that she would be leaving to pursue other projects and spend more time with her children.

Since the announcement, Mac spoke to the Radio Times about “tokenism” and being a woman in music.

Read this next:Annie Mac is set to leave Radio 1 after 17 years

Despite seeing a shift in dynamic as more females begin to take up space in the industry, Mac noted that she often still feels like a “token booking." She explains, “I’ve seen over the years that tokenism idea of: ‘Well, as long as we’ve got Annie there, the box is ticked.’”

Across her near two decades working in the industry, Mac has spoken out about such issues in the past. In 2014, the DJ wrote an article for Vice titled 'Stop asking me questions about being a woman’, which delved into the gender-specific questions she’s often asked in interviews.

Read this next: "A glass ceiling with a razor wire": The harsh reality for women working in dance music

In her interview with the Radio Times, Mac opened up about her reasons for leaving Radio 1. “I wanted to be around in the evenings as my youngest kid starts school in September – but really, lots of things have come together to make this decision feel very easy,” she said.

She added that it “just isn’t sustainable”, telling the magazine that she wants to take up podcasting and writing novels following the success of her book ‘Mother Mother’.

Read this next: Annie Mac: "There's not enough Black people in every level of the music industry"

While the presenter recognises the positive shift in the industry, she doesn’t want to support women just out of necessity: “Believe it or not, it is possible to talk about two female artists without being tokenistic.

“There are countless female artists and female DJs who are quietly achieving all their dreams without using their gender as a tool. I feel annoyed being grateful that we have a female breakfast show presenter on Radio 2 or 6 Music. We shouldn’t be grateful. It should be a given, not an anomaly.”

Read this next: 20 women who've shaped the history of dance music

She continued: “But I’m very encouraged at Radio 1 with the commitment they have to women. Clara [Amfo] getting the show that I’m leaving is the most sensible and inspired choice. It’s great, but there’s still a long way to go.”

Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter

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