Visibility, Techne, and Lighting the Fire

There needs to be more women in production and sound engineering. Visibility: Female: Pressure tumblr is trying to raise the profile of women who are producers and engineers, and this is wonderful. But it does not get into the deeper problem with women in production, of why exactly there are so few. This may be also because of an active discouragement, but also a lack of steering into technology. So it is not just a music production issue, but a reflection of a problem in engineering and technology in general.

I have met with engineers who are women, not just sound engineers, but electrical and software engineers. One of the common threads is having access to a synthesizer when they were very young. As much as music lessons are encouraged, I think exploration and experimentation with music is not with many girls. While piano lessons may be helpful for understanding music, a synthesizer can point somebody in a different direction, an introduction to the experimentation with technology and music. Synthesizers, at least the ones where one can program sounds, puts one closer to the science of sound. Waveforms, frequency, resonance, envelopes, voltages, all become important in sound creation. But these aspects of a synthesizers are also involved often tools involved in production.

In addition to synthesizers,  DIY electronics could also be a gateway for the more technical aspects of music. The problem is this is all to often not introduced to girls. There is talk about introducing engineering to more girls and young women, but who said it cannot be something which can be used  creatively with as well.  This is where Techne, which is a group that works at introducing electronics at Girls Rock! Camps is important.

So as much as I think it is important to introduce  girls to music, I think synthesizers and DIY electronics provide a surprising opportunity to bridge two gaps. One is the gap between women and music production, but also women in technology and engineering. Without planting these seeds in a way that is interesting, at the right point in life, they may never pursue it.

Visibility is important to show women in actual production and engineering work, as these women are potential mentors and role models. To improve the lack of women in the technical aspects of music in the future, it will take the work of groups like Girls Rock! and Techne, but also parents who are willing to introduce their daughters to synthesizers, music production, and electronics to light the fire, and produce a lifelong love.