The UK branch of the Audio Engineering Society has its first female chair Dr Mariana Lopez and she has declared that gender equality in our industry will be a key part of her role and as a result, AES UK is supporting the HeForShe campaign and has put in place 6 bursaries for female engineers thanks to the support of Nugen Audio and iZotope.
In February 2018 the Audio Engineering Society (AES) UK held a panel at the University of York to discuss the gender imbalance in the audio industry. Apparently, women make up just 5% of the Society’s members, which inspired the organisers to link up with the UN’s global HeForShe campaign for the event to see if they could make a difference.
The HeForShe campaign was launched by the UN in 2014, with a speech by actor Emma Watson. The HeForShe campaign describes itself as a solidarity movement for gender equality which calls upon men and boys to help end the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally.
Together with the support of AES Sustaining Members Nugen Audio and iZotope, AES UK has been able to offer 6 HeForShe bursaries. The bursaries supported by Nugen Audio will cover the cost of 3 AES Student Memberships for 1 year. The bursaries supported by iZotope will cover the cost of 3 full Memberships for early career audio professionals that wish to join the AES, these will also be for 1 year.
What Can We Do?
It is great to see the AES working hard in promoting gender equality in what is a very male-dominated industry. Back in 2016 the AES voted for their first female vice president in their 2016 international elections, electing Leslie Gaston-Bird Vice President Western Region, US & Canada, one of 3 vice presidents, in the organisation's structure and has since set up the AES' Diversity and Inclusion Committee with the aims to promote a broader and more diverse membership. Leslie explains...
It’s so important to get different viewpoints on what diversity actually means, so I think it’s important for us to constantly engage with our membership and let them know that we are listening, and we want to appeal to everyone we can.
Looking at the profiles of the six bursary awardees, which we have reproduced below, they are all very talented people and are already making their own way in our industry.
Yes, we are a male-dominated industry but we can fix it. We can encourage and mentor girls and women to take an interest in what we do, encourage them when they show an interest and if we all work together with campaigns like HeForShe which calls upon men and boys to help end the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally, we can do this.
Just take a look at these 6 young women making their own way in this industry, there can be many more talented women in our industry if we all work together to remove barriers, both perceived and real, encourage and mentor girls and women that they can do it, it's not a man's world. When Leslie Gaston-Bird joined the AES she was asked why...
The late Roy Pritts and the late Rich Sanders were mentors of mine who encouraged me to get involved with the AES. Later I held officer positions (secretary and chair) in our Colorado Section. I feel like the AES is a family, I have met many friends and colleagues who share my passion for all things audio.
It was men who mentored and encouraged her. When we see such a small proportion of women in our industry it's our fault, it's not genetic, biological, or socially unacceptable, it's because we haven't encouraged and mentored enough. So what are you going to do to fix the gender inequality in our industry?
To give you some inspiration, here is more about the successful 6 winners of the bursaries...
In 2014, she received a bachelor’s degree in Sound and Acoustics Engineering from Universidad de las Américas, Quito, Ecuador.
She has worked as an independent sound recordist assistant for audio-visual productions and as a tutor for Ear training and Architectural Acoustics courses in the Music Production and Sound Recording technical training area in Universidad de la Américas.
She is currently an Acoustics and Music Technology master’s student at the University of Edinburgh. Her main interests include audio technology, audio effects processing and sound recording.
Helen is an award-winning writer and comedy performer. Her work layers science, comedy, personal experiences and popular culture to create distinctive, novel shows live and for radio. In recognition of her original approach, she was appointed as an Innovation Fellow by Wired magazine in 2015.
Unusually, her radio series It Is Rocket Science (about the history and possible future of space travel) has won and been nominated for major awards as both a factual and a comedy programme, including winning the Association of British Science Writers Royal Society Radio prize. She has performed and spoken at literary, science, and arts festivals all over the world.
Amy's research lies at the intersection of human audition and machine listening technologies. She is currently part of a team exploring the music listening behaviour of people with hearing aids and is also developing room-robust audio-sensing methods for a series of participatory sound art projects.
Alexia Charoud is a Parisian sound designer, visual artist and musician currently based in London. After graduating from a Bachelor of Art History and Theory at Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL) with a Distinction, Alexia has developed an impressive portfolio in audio post-production for film, location recording and sound design.
Her skills in interactive audio for games, animation, as well as a background in the visual arts all inspire and serve to shape her unique sonic vision. Alexia is currently finishing up her Masters in Audio Production at the University of Westminster, where she has further developed and refined these skills.
In addition to French, Alexia is fluent in English, Spanish and Mandarin. Alexia can often be spotted playing synthesisers and guitars at intimate venues around London, where she brings her otherworldly soundscapes to a live audience as part of an experimental electronic duo.
After finishing an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and a masters degree in Audio and Music Technology, Lizzie Wilson is now currently studying for a PhD in Media and Arts Technology at Queen Mary University.
As part of the Centre for Digital Music, her interests for research lie in the fields of machine learning and music information retrieval and their application to generative music and computational creativity.
Fi is a recent SAE graduate where she obtained a First in her degree in Audio Production. Towards the end of her studies, she started as a runner at Strongroom Studios in Shoreditch and has since been working as an assistant engineer, primarily at Strongroom, but also at Urchin Studios.
Earlier this year she released her first EP 'De Lin' using extended piano techniques under the name Fia Yana which she composed, produced and engineered herself. She will continue experimenting with bizarre piano techniques to create an album for production music company Audio Network, collaborating with Strongroom composer and engineer Rob Kelly.
Recently she has been getting creative in the studio with Cara Sebastian on her upcoming album and has just begun recording with South London jazz band Pyjaen. She is particularly interested in any experimental and unusual techniques both with instruments and engineering.