Changing the Face of Sound: The Top 4 Ways Women’s Audio Mission is Tackling the Lack of Women in Creative Technology
By: Noelle Duncan
Organization: Women’s Audio Mission
How many of us listen to media on a daily basis? The startling fact is that less than 5% of the people creating the sounds, music and media that make up the soundtrack of our lives are women.
Women’s Audio Mission (WAM), a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of women in creative technology and digital media production, was recently quoted in a headline in an article in The Huffington Post entitled “There Are So Few Women In Music Production, No One Bothers To Count”. Whether it’s the new Taylor Swift album or latest HBO hit series, less than 5% of the people shaping the sounds of our world are women.
And we wonder why so little of our media reflects women’s perspectives and voices.
WAM was founded in 2003 to address this problem. Founder Terri Winston, director of the recording arts program at City College of San Francisco, realized that the problem stemmed from the fact that girls are socialized to be intimidated by technology at an early age and the people producing content in the media were those with skills in creative technology. Winston saw the alarming decline in women/girls entering college STEM programs (70% decline since 2000) and decided to do something about it.
“WAM started in a shopping cart,” Winston recalled. “I pushed a grocery cart full of pro audio gear from classroom to classroom and taught girls and women skills in creative technology. Today, I’m proud to say WAM has grown into a world-class facility in San Francisco, the only professional recording studio built and run by women in the world, and trains over 1,200 San Francisco Bay Area women and girls in creative technology a year.”
WAM is widely recognized for its training programs; the White House Office of Social Innovation visited WAM to learn about WAM’s innovative methods of educating young girls in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM).
The top 4 ways WAM is tackling the lack of women in STEM/creative technology:
- Relevancy: WAM uses music and media (subjects popular with girls) and our world-class recording studio (former home to projects by Alanis Morissette, Timbaland, Radiohead) as a giant carrot to attract & connect 1,200+ underserved girls/women each year to creative technology training.
- Early outreach: WAM trains 850+ underserved girls ages 11-18 a year through the Girls on the Mic program, a groundbreaking training/mentoring program that provides girls with free creative technology training, reaching girls at a formative age to demystify technology and inspire them to pursue STEM-related careers and college programs.
- All-women environment: WAM’s studio is the only professional recording studio in the world built and run by women. WAM’s workshops are led by women professionals.
- Internship and Job Placement Program: WAM has placed 280+ women in paid positions with Google, Pixar, Dolby Labs, NPR, etc. WAM offers an intensive, 6-month internship program where interns receive mentorship, learn creative technology skills, gain professional credits, and become mentors in the Girls on the Mic program.
Three ways you can join WAM and increase the number of women in creative technology: