— -- The Recording Academy, the music industry group which hands out the Grammys, on Thursday announced the formation of a task force to aid "female advancement" in the music industry.
The announcement comes after Academy president Neil Portnow faced a barrage of criticism for comments to reporters after last Sunday's Grammys in which he said women need to "step up" to be better represented at the ceremony.
"I understand the hurt that my poor choice of words following last Sunday’s GRAMMY telecast has caused," Portnow wrote in a letter addressed to "the music community” on Thursday. "I also now realize that it’s about more than just my words. Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women. I’d like to help make that right," he added.
The task force's goal will be to identify ways in which the Academy can "do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community," according to the letter.
Portnow pledged that the task force also will look at the Academy itself "and tackle whatever truths are revealed."
According to the letter, more specifics will be announced "in the coming weeks."
After Sunday's telecast, in which only one major award went to a solo female, the hashtag #GrammySoMale, began trending. Before the show, The New York Times reported that only nine percent of all Grammy nominees in the past six years have been women.
On Tuesday, Portnow issued a statement clarifying his backstage comments to a reporter. In Tuesday's statement he said, ""Regrettably, I used two words, ‘step up,’ that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make," adding, "We must actively work to eliminate these barriers and encourage women to live their dreams and express their passion and creativity through music. We must welcome, mentor, and empower them. Our community will be richer for it."