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AES Reflects Increasingly Diverse Industry

The AES is taking an industry-leading role in increasing the diversity of its members and management, with notable success in the area of female involvement in positions of influence.

New York, NY—The Audio Engineering Society is taking an industry-leading role in increasing the diversity of its members and management, with notable success in the area of female involvement in positions of influence. Incoming AES president Agnieszka Roginska taking over the role for 2020 from current president Nadja Wallaszkovits is a momentous event, marking the first time in the Audio Engineering Society’s history that one woman has succeeded another in the top spot. Similarly, for the second consecutive year, women occupy three-fifths of the AES Board of Directors, the organization’s governing body. The AES Diversity & Inclusion Committee was created in 2017 to support and guide this sea change in the society’s leadership, membership and within the industry at large.

Nadja Wallaszkovits John Staley

“I’m very proud of all the work the Diversity & Inclusion committee has done under the leadership of Leslie Gaston-Bird and Piper Payne, co-chairs of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee,” says Roginska. “We have made a significant move forward in increasing the diversity of our AES in everything that ‘diversity’ means—welcoming diverse genres and emerging audio fields, improving accessibility and focusing on the inclusiveness of all genders, races, ages and nationalities. We will be continuing this great work in 2020, learning about just how diverse our community is, and implementing the mission of diversity and inclusion throughout the AES.”

Key to that mission will be fostering growth in AES membership. “I’m grateful to our president, Nadja Wallaszkovits, our executive director, Colleen Harper, AES volunteers and staff for the tremendous work they are doing. Our AES has expanded its reach with new sections, and we are planning ahead for future exciting events,” Roginska says. “The year 2020 will be about building membership and recognizing that we are a diverse community of members, whether you are a student exploring the world of audio, a young professional entering the workforce and growing, in mid-career maintaining and learning new skills in the rapidly changing industry, or someone who wants to give back to the community as a mentor. The mission of the AES is to promote the science and practice of audio by bringing leading people and ideas together.”

AES 147 Convention co-chairs (from left) Jonathan Wyner, Agnieszka Roginska and Valerie Tyler John Staley

Wallaszkovits concurs, noting, “That work will continue in the coming year with the leadership of Agnieszka, supported by myself and the rest of the Board of Directors, by the Board of Governors and by the society’s growing and increasingly diverse membership. I am delighted to see that the benefits that AES provided to my own personal and professional growth will be even more accessible to an ever-broadening base of current and future audio professionals.”

A welcoming atmosphere was part of what drew Wallaszkovits to the AES in the first place. As a university student in Austria, she was introduced to the society by a professor who invited her to participate and join. “It was my first chance to meet the well-respected audio professionals of our country, to listen to their presentations, to discuss current topics with them and to become involved in the audio community,” says Wallaszkovits. The “powerful” experience of her early AES involvement, she declares, “profoundly impacted my professional life.”

Related: AES Diversity & Inclusion Committee Acts with Intention, by Katie Makal, Oct. 18, 2018

Wallaszkovits delivered her first AES Convention presentation while a student, beginning a familiar pattern where the combined knowledge from her formal education, her growing experience and the continuation of her education through AES resources allowed her to then begin to give back.

The AES became a platform for Wallaszkovits to develop relationships with student peers who would go on to become professional peers and colleagues. As she became a leading expert in her chosen specialty—Wallaszkovits is chief audio engineer at Phonogrammarchiv, Austrian Academy of Sciences—she became a mentor to a new generation of audio students and young professionals.

“AES offers a unique, collegial community,” she says. “Helping that community grow is deeply satisfying. Student membership is steadily growing; AES currently has an impressive 138 student sections worldwide. Students are our flagship, our future potential and the best place to reflect integrative thinking.”

As the incoming AES president, Roginska is readily aware of how students will shape the future of audio technology and application. A professor of music technology and the vice chair of the Music and Performing Arts Professions Department at New York University, Roginska conducts research in the simulation and applications of immersive and 3D audio, a field that has grown in significance over recent years with the surging global appetite for videogames; virtual, augmented and other realities; and streaming movies and music. She is co-editor of the book Immersive Sound: The Art and Science of Binaural and Multi-Channel Audio and is the author of numerous publications about the acoustics and psychoacoustics of immersive audio and auditory displays.

While some observers are warning of a potential worldwide economic downturn, Roginska says, “I’m very optimistic and excited about what the future holds for the AES and the audio industry. At no time in our history has audio seen such growth—growth that is widespread in applications that extend far beyond the traditional definition of audio engineering.”

Related: PSN’s Best of Show Award Winners – AES 2019, Oct. 21, 2019

Audio is everywhere, she says. “More people make, experience and consume music than ever before. Immersive experiences fill our lives of entertainment, whether we’re listening to music, enjoying a concert, a sports event, playing video games, experiencing virtual, augmented and future reality, or controlling our smart home. Research in audio extends into sensor networks in smart cities, wildlife migration patterns, understanding how people communicate, and defining future technologies that will enable us to collaborate, interact, make and experience music in novel ways.”

As she looks forward to taking on her new responsibilities in January, she says, “I’m excited!”

Audio Engineering Society •