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I have just read this article from the BBC: Why are female record producers so rare? I do know of a few female sound people in the UK, but from what I can see it does seem to follow this trend and in my experience this is also reflected by the number of female students taking sound related courses at UK Universities. Is this the same in other countries? Is it different in other sectors of sound? For example, Sound Designer, Sound Engineers, Sound Editors, Foley Artists? Does anyone have any stats? Anyway to encourage more female students to apply for sound courses?

Thanks,

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check out the Women's Audio Mission online –  Shaun Farley Aug 29 '12 at 16:38
    
Interestingly, this is the subject of an active discussion today on the Tape Op facebook page. There should be much more discussion on this subject matter... –  ron macleod Aug 29 '12 at 17:40
    
@Shaun & @ron thanks for the pointers. I'll check both of these out. –  Bit Depth Aug 31 '12 at 10:37

10 Answers 10

I am a post sound b#itch. I love it. It is everything I have wanted since I ran my Cubase system in 89. There is nothing else for me. I started competing for time in the studio at age 13.

While I do call my female comrades "unicorns", as there are not many of us, those that exist would not at all be attracted to more "artsy" course titles or different educational marketing. In fact, if anyone can find an Advanced SSL and/or Neve Automation Techniques for Post seminar or Audio Implementation course for gaming, I would be tickled.

The last statistic I read was 5% females in audio engineering by the US Dept of Labor a few years back. I couldn't tell you why it is so low. I cannot imagine a cooler gig.

All I know is that it is changing and the women that roll in audio successfully are blowing it up. Check out mixer Anna Behlmer (Super 8, Cloverfield, etc), mixer Lora Hirschberg (First Female Academy Award Winner for Audio Mix last year for Inception and also mixed Avengers and The Dark Knight this year.), or Supervising Sound Editor, Gwen Whittle (Tron, Mission:Impossible Ghost Protocol, etc). In fact, Skywalker in general has lots of audio chicks rocking the air waves.

Generally, there seems to be more females in dialogue editing, ADR mixing, & dialogue supervision than sound design, foley, and re-recording mix. But I know plenty of women on the lots in LA who can make things go "BOOM" and can surf faders. Many do so for some of the highest end audio post companies and studios imaginable. Take Ann Scibelli for example. She works for Soundelux and just finished Prometheus this year.

And just to crush another stereotype...I am also girly and hott. I love to nerd just as much as I love to get mani/pedis. We do exist. We are the complete package. We are gunning for your gigs. We are getting gigs and your studio will be assimilated. :)

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All your faders are belong to us? –  Stavrosound Sep 2 '12 at 6:53
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Another one which comes to mind too for the list is Deb Adair, she's one of Sony's re-recording mixers (and has been for a long time), impressive body of work as well. –  Stavrosound Sep 2 '12 at 19:19
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My last film EMPEROR was mixed by Lora Hirschberg - she was so great to work with! Anne Krober would be another great sound woman, her work with Alan Splet & David Lynch is a role model to us all –  user49 Sep 2 '12 at 21:56
    
@MixingManiac thanks for a lot a really useful info and insight. Do you think females are taking-up dialogue, ADR and mixing as a way to get into sound design and foley or is that their preferred path or are they finding it harder than men to make the transition? –  Bit Depth Sep 3 '12 at 10:15
    
@ Bit Depth All the dialogue gals I know truly love dialogue. I don't think they are working their way toward anything but better and better projects. There are sound design gals and foley gals though....just not as many (In fact, Warner Brothers Underground has a female foley walker, a good friend of mine sound designs and foley edits for Danetracks and Technicolor and one of Fox's main explosion and action film designers is an outwardly unsuspectingly quiet gal.) We are everywhere. –  Karol Urban Sep 4 '12 at 5:12

My career started in Montreal, Canada where I spent many years in post audio. To put a smile on your face and to tell you that there are lots of women working in the post audio industry there from mixing right through to ADR Supervising and on set recording. Natalie Fluerant and Diane Carrier are industry veterans there both in ADR and Natalie Moran and Isabelle Larin are veteran foley recordists- all very technical. It is truly sad to stereotype women in the industry when my experience has been the exact opposite. There are a number on female on set recordists and boom operators of high caliber working in Montreal and Toronto and there are many female foley artists who have years under their belts. Also, I found that it is about a 60% to 40% split in favor of men in the post audio industry but that is a lot better than say 35 years ago when women were stereotyped into admin jobs, make-up, costume and hair. Things are changing and I agree that technology is NOT gender specific and the quality of my past colleagues work is exceptional.

I hope that when you students read this they will be inspired to pursue their dreams in a technological area such as cinema audio. At the end of the day we all have ears and the same neurological ability to process what we hear into a creative vision.

Hope it helps

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@oinkaudio Thanks for your input. It is really interested to hear that things are changing in Canada. The key for me is to inspire women to consider and apply for sound courses, but I shall also pass your comments on to my current students. –  Bit Depth Aug 31 '12 at 13:00

Well I have to say, I'm a woman, I'm 24 years old and I'm studying to become a sound designer also, I'm from Mexico and most of my girl-friends are into sound editing, recording, design, etc. :D

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That's great. I'm seeing more people around me becoming interested in this stuff too; whilst most of the fancy pro audio people are men, every class I teach or workshop I attend is made up predominantly of women radio producers and sound designers keen to extend their skill set. Perhaps we're just not hearing as much about them because the dominant discourse in this field still frames it as somewhat inaccessible. Anyway, I disagree with the idea that even rudimentary engagement with sound is that technical - especially these days. –  pointy stumps Sep 1 '12 at 10:13
    
@pointy stumps so the question is how do we frame it so it seems more accessible? –  Bit Depth Sep 3 '12 at 10:03
    
I don't know - but I liked MixingManiac's confident response. Outside of the film and television industry - and a continent away from Hollywood and the massive motion picture machine - I would say there are less female sound artists, designers and foley artists. But there's no shortage of girls willing to learn. What can I say? Once they get in the door, they're as fantastic as anybody else. –  pointy stumps Sep 4 '12 at 11:41

I personally know a lot of women sound editors/engineers/whatever you want to call the profession...there are even a few on SSD here...but there's a lot of passive sexism in our industry. When guys make comments like Internet Human's comment above (no offense meant, but it's a good example), "I guess women in arts just tend to enjoy more "artistic" positions, rather than technical," or another comment I've seen here on SSD in the past, "Holy crap! There's a girl here?!" (disclaimer: may not be strictly verbatim)...it creates a hostile environment. It's like we're saying they need to justify their presence in our profession.

If you want to encourage women to pursue this profession, we have to change the way we think and talk about the idea. One of the focuses of the Women's Audio Mission, that I mentioned above, is to simply increase the exposure of female professionals; giving young women who might be interested in the field some role models they can look up to. Don't treat the women who are here like they're anomalies. They're not. They're just as talented, artistic, and technically minded as the rest of us.

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Well it's the same problem in any field which hasn't naturally formed to compromise of people from both sexes equally. If one notes there being an absence of another sex in a field, it has to be justified somehow to make it understandable and to be able to discuss the reasons behind it. But yes, the change is surely advanced with a more liberal atmosphere, where there isn't discussion about differences or "boundaries", but rather interesting possibilities in the work itself, which are open regardless of sex. –  Internet Human Aug 29 '12 at 18:56
    
But I still feel that some words have a sexist clang to them. Maybe because they're mixed with practices and roles in other fields. Whereas other terms are much more liberal sounding. –  Internet Human Aug 29 '12 at 19:03
    
@Shaun Thanks for your comment. I guess the lack of "Role Models" is a really important one and maybe our courses need to showcase some the the female students that we have. Maybe we need a similar thing to WAM in the UK. –  Bit Depth Aug 31 '12 at 11:00
    
@Bit Depth - WAM is a global organization, they just don't have a dedicated studio outside of San Francisco. –  Shaun Farley Aug 31 '12 at 11:27
    
@Shaun Thanks again for the tip. Interestingly I never hear of WAM before you mentioned it. Maybe we set-up a UK Chapter to help publicise it here. –  Bit Depth Aug 31 '12 at 12:43

In Poland, a lot of trained sound engineers/sound editors, especialy those graduated from "tonmeister" course at Frederic Chopin University Of Music , are woman... I thought about it earlier and I think it's some sort of phenomen. ;)

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@Marcin Thanks I shall take a look at this course. –  Bit Depth Aug 31 '12 at 12:27
    
The University of Surrey in the UK has a tonmeister course too, which also has a high female attendance. surrey.ac.uk/msr/study/ug/bcourse/index.htm –  Skarik Aug 31 '12 at 13:42
    
BTW... If someone would like to take a look chopin.edu.pl/en/departments-of-the-university/… It's strictly translated as sound engineeniring, but it's tonemeister, entrance exams are very hard... –  Marcin Aug 31 '12 at 21:29
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Well...a pole did invent the nagra, Na Zdrowie! –  Karol Urban Sep 2 '12 at 6:29

I'm from Portugal and I don't know any other woman or girl into sound design in here. I attended a bachelor on Music Production and Technology and between 16-18 students per year, usually there are 0 to 1 girls. Even so, there are some live sound technicians girls and they all enjoy of a nice reputation, actually. I think they are seen as trustworthy. Within these areas, I think the ones who stand out are really good and work hard, more than most of guys, and of course if we are so few, we end up standing out.

Without criticizing anyone I agree to a certain extent the the 'engineering' is usually the weakest part, from what I've been seeing, most woman tend to focus more on the concept and so on, on a theoretical level, then technical experimentation. I guess it's only a matter of time, though.

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@Melissa thanks for your comments. It seems that things are very different in different parts of the world. You very much seem to pushing the technical experimentation side and using some interesting combinations of technology. Is this through personal choice or driven by what you are being paid for? –  Bit Depth Sep 6 '12 at 10:12
    
Oh, it is only a matter of personal choice and taste, it's VERY HARD getting a pay gig around here, unfortunately, usually, video editors do sound design tasks. If I don't push the technical side forward I won't have any place in the market. I get more income from music live shows than anything else at the moment. When I started moving towards sound design in college, I had nothing to look for in the program so I just had to keep moving myself. It's tough but it is worth. :) –  Melissa Pons Sep 7 '12 at 2:01
    
@Melissa "video editors do sound tasks" ::shudder:: ;) –  Stavrosound Sep 7 '12 at 6:49

When I started (around 25-30 years ago) it seemed like the only females were ADR & dialogue editors and foley walkers (now called foley Artists). That has changed.

When we were cutting on film it was a dirtier and much more physically demanding job. Sound FX and design was a boys club ... not anymore. Not even a little bit.

Women are everywhere (thank god!) Where I work there are now as many women as men. Nothing is gender specific anymore. There are more male sound supervisors than female but I think that is just a remnant from the past. There is now a much bigger pool of female sound people ready to rise through the ranks and become supervisors if that is their wish. Some of us prefer to continue to work as editors and designers. It's more fun, independent, creative and you don't have to deal with the suits and budget.

There is nothing holding you back if you have the talent and the drive ... honest.

On a side note, a degree won't help you nearly as much as getting an entry level job at a sound house. This is an industry where friendships and connections will help you much more than a degree. I am working with women who started like I did as drivers and assistants. They made friends, stayed after their daytime job was done and sat in with editors and designers and learned what and how it is really done.

GO FOR IT!

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Chris, Thanks for your answer.....I'm not actually a girl myself. I actually teach on sound courses at university (UG & PG) in the UK. Since we started our courses we have had very few girls apply and even fewer actually come. I'd really like to understand why this is and see if we can turn this around. –  Bit Depth Feb 19 '13 at 8:33

I am shocked that there is still the attitude that women aren't technical!!!! It would be great to know what aspect of studio technology isn't feminine?

A sound engineer of 25 years.

Also a woman.

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To be fair that was a comment from one person, that was removed and may now be being taken out of context. –  Bit Depth Feb 9 '13 at 22:48

My live mixing mentor was female.
The badassinest sound dude I ever met.

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Thanks to all of you that have responded so far. I'm really keen to get some more input from female sound people. How did you end up in sound? Did you take a direct path or did you come into the sound area indirectly? Did you study a sound related course? What inspired you to take-up sound? Is there anything you think is gender specific?

Sorry for so many questions, but your answers could be a big help to change things in the future.

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I was legally blind until the age of 6. I studied piano as a kid. I bought a midi system in 89 and started scoring. I went to a high school for the Arts and studied composition in a studio for 3 years graduating early, studied audio post at James Madison University garnering a BS, paid for school working at a post audio lab on campus and setting up concert sound for touring acts on the weekends. I began my post career right out of school. It was always audio for picture for me. –  Karol Urban Sep 2 '12 at 6:25

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