A Great Question: Why Aren’t More Women Working in Audio?

Anyone who spends a lot of time in recording studios will notice something missing: women. I’ve been through dozens of studios in my life and I can’t remember a single time when I’ve encountered a female producer or engineer with the notable exception of Sylvia Massy (who is awesome, by the way.)

Now think of all the gigs you’ve been to. How many times have you seen a single woman working front-of-house sound or onstage monitoring? Probably not a lot.

Why aren’t there more women working in audio? The Atlantic asks the same question.

On a hot summer day in Nevada City, California, a group of teenage girls are scattered before a stage in the town’s cultural center. They’re studying an analog soundboard, which is covered with so many knobs and levers that it looks like it belongs in the cockpit of an airplane. Onstage, a band is doing a sound check, which requires lots of drumming, strumming, and saying “check” into a microphone.

Check is a really annoying word,” the guitar player says. “Yeah, it’s losing all meaning,” the bassist replies.

It’s the last day of the week-long Live Sound Camp for Girls. This afternoon, there will be a show, but the band won’t be the real focus. Rather, the performance will be a chance for 16 girls—and a few boys—to show off the live music-production skills they’ve learned by controlling all the technical aspects of the concert on their own.

The camp’s instructor, Tiffany Hendren, hovers by the soundboard as the teenagers take turns with the headphones. One participant, 17-year-old Mary Vogel, explains the intricacies of micing a drum set to me.  “You’re creating something live right in front of you,” she says of sound engineering. “You’re making it richer. You’re taking out the little buzzes and snaps and things you just don’t want to hear because it takes away from the performance.” Vogel, who has spent two summers at the camp, says she’s considering taking music-production classes in college next year.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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