As a female music producer and recording engineer happily working in audio engineering, I feel it of interest to note that latest statistics estimate only around or less than 5 percent of recording engineers are female. So whilst I know this gross under representation needs to be discussed, it is also important to me that we acknowledge and increase the visibility of women who are working away in this sector.
Female recording engineers are harder to notice as the job entails a somewhat low profile behind the glass of the studio control room. Though, I have come across a few very successful and competent ladies including Leanne Ungar (engineered and produced a lot of Leonard Cohen albums) and Mandy Parnell who recently mastered one of the most innovative and successful female musicians Bjork’s latest album Biophilia. Mastering engineers that are female is even more rare to come across but Lodge Mastering in New York is both successful and staffed by women (and men). Also, US based Silvia Massy Shivy, a very creative and in demand engineer was only woman to make it into Howard Massey’s compendium of great producers “Behind the Glass.”
Every now and then my favourite creative recording magazine Tape Op will also interview a woman about her recording and engineering career or working as female musicians. For example, it was here that I came across a Terri Winston, founder of Women’s Audio Mission. The work of Women’s Audio Mission in San Francisco in the US is pro active in training up girls and women in music production and audio engineering and seems to be a popular resource. An interview with the founding engineer revealed a lot of top male producer and studio owners donated studio gear for the innovative project which is encouraging.
And I have also come across the Smart Women’s Recording Club in London, UK who are also doing great work to help women to access and succeed in the field of music production and recording. They have produced a helpful free guide you can download about producing your first CD and working in a recording studio with an engineer as an artist. They also run workshops for female musicians to get more confidence in the studio so they can get the sound they want. I have seen on the website testimonials that the workshops are also tempting more women into music production careers.
So there is progress being made and positive actions by many women and men to ensure that more than 5 per cent of women are capable to being competent recording engineers. So I can only hope that if we few percent that are already active in the industry of music production can work hard and develop our craft so we may become more visible and heard. I firmly believe that the more we hear of and see women surviving and thriving in the field of audio engineering, the more women, especially young women, will think of these fields as a career option. And diversity of voice and sound in good, and representation of these diverse sounds and voices of female musicians and recording engineers is a good thing in my mostly humble opinion.
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