Women in Music president discusses organization’s push beyond gender equity to other areas of diversity

Nicole Barsalona talks the importance of fostering diversity

Nicole Barsalona joined WIM in 2013.
Supplied by Nicole Barsalona

According to its president, Nicole Barsalona, the Women in Music (WIM) organization encourages storytelling as a way to inspire younger musicians and show them what’s possible.

“We hope to empower women in their roles to feel more comfortable and confident and give them that network,” she said in an interview with The Journal. “We’re not just here to provide education and support, but we’re also asking things of our industry to make sure that the companies that are represented are also taking action to be more diverse and inclusive.”

Barsalona said WIM’s mantra is “educate, empower, and inspire.”

She hopes this mantra will be applied not only in the WIM organization, but in the music industry as a whole.

“Coming from an industry that was male dominated for so many decades, and now being a little bit more equitable in terms of the numbers of people represented in the industry, there still aren’t enough women in those senior executive positions,” she said.

Barsalona added that, in 2019, WIM launched a diversity and inclusion panel.

“That panel kind of blew my mind because I realized that for as long as I had served on the board of the organization, we really had focused on the more general gender equity umbrella, but we haven’t really dug down to provide specific programming and content for women who were underrepresented within that women in music tag,” she said.

“We had been [talking] about female empowerment and equity, and in 2019, we realized it was really the time to make sure we were providing more focused content for women who didn’t see themselves represented equally.”

She hopes this change in perspective will go beyond the WIM organization to the music industry as a whole.

“I think that’s something we really hope to see from the industry at large, is to be more intentional with that diversity because it’s so, so important for the next generation of women seeing who’s represented on all of these panels.”

Barsalona pointed to a Moms in Music panel she saw a few years ago.

“It was really the first time I realized I might actually be able to juggle a family and a career in the music business,” she said. “After touring for various artists and working in an Indie label it wasn’t something I thought was possible given the time and energy I spent in the business […] That panel that I watched just as a young professional really changed the course for me in my decision making and family planning.”

Barsalona encouraged students to become involved in some of WIM’s programs, which include seminars, workshops, and performance showcases to empower women entering the music industry. Anyone interested can visit the Women in Music organization’s website or its partner organization in Canada.

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