CMA Awards 2016: Why is Country Music Association so stingy to female entertainers?

Why are the CMA Awards so stingy to female entertainers? It’s true that two of this year’s most nominated artists are women — Maren Morris with five and Carrie Underwood with four — but the race for Entertainer of the Year is dominated by men once again. In fact, in the 49-year history of the CMAs, the top prize has been won by a woman only nine times:

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1972 – Lortetta Lynn
1978 – Dolly Parton
1980 – Barbara Mandrell
1981 – Barbara Mandrell
1986 – Reba McEntire
1999 – Shania Twain
2000 – Dixie Chicks
2009 – Taylor Swift
2011 – Taylor Swift

The longest drought for women was between 1986 and 1999, when there were 12 consecutive male winners. There have also been stretches of time when no women were even nominated, most recently 2002-2007 — that was six years in a row with no women counted among the country music industry’s top entertainers.

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This year Underwood is nominated for Entertainer of the Year for the first time. That’s shocking when you consider that she was twice named Entertainer of the Year by the rival Academy of Country Music (2008-2009), has enjoyed more than a decade of chart-topping crossover success and won seven Grammys.

But Underwood is the only woman nominated for Entertainer of the Year, and that’s par for the course. For the last six years in a row, there has been only one woman nominated in the top category: Taylor Swift from 2011-2013, Miranda Lambert from 2014-2015 and now Underwood. Two women were nominated in 2010 (Lambert and Hillary Scott of the group Lady Antebellum), but you have to go back to 2000 to find another instance when two female acts made the cut (Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks, with the Dixie Chicks winning).

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And when was the last time women held the majority of Entertainer of the Year nominations? That has never happened.

Like the Grammys, the CMAs are handed out by industry insiders: the musicians, executives, songwriters and publicists who make up the Country Music Association. Will they award Underwood this year? Or will they go with Luke Bryan, who has only one other nomination (Musical Event for “Home Alone Tonight”), for the third year in a row? Or perhaps Garth Brooks, who has won four times before and is nominated for the second year in a row without any other nominations?

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