Neil Portnow's diversity suggestion riled Pink and other woman.

By Hayden Wright

At Sunday night’s GRAMMY Awards, Alessia Cara was the sole woman to win a general (non-genre) category — Best New Artist. Ed Sheeran defeated four women to win Best Pop Solo Performance, while the night’s most nominated woman SZA went home empty-handed.

Related: Ed Sheeran’s GRAMMY Win For ‘Shape Of You’ Fuels Gender Debate

In reaction, some have argued that the Recording Academy should take steps to recognize female artists with trophies, not just nominations.

As the debate began, Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow told Variety that to achieve parity on Grammy night, more women need to “step up” as musicians, engineers, producers and executives. His comments were met with swift condemnation from artists, including Charlie XCX, Sheryl Crow and Pink.

“Women in music don’t need to ‘step up,'” Pink wrote on Twitter. “Women have been stepping up since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside … When we celebrate and honor the talent and accomplishments of women, and how much women step up every year, against all odds, we show the next generation of women and girls and boys and men what it means to be equal.”

In light of the controversy, Portnow expressed regret and clarified his comments about gender equity in the music industry.

“Last night, I was asked a question about the lack of female artist representation in certain categories of this year’s GRAMMY Awards,” he said in a statement. “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.”

“Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced. 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. I regret that I wasn’t as articulate as I should have been in conveying this thought. I remain committed to doing everything I can to make our music community a better, safer, and more representative place for everyone.”

See Pink’s full note here:

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