Last October at the 2012 AES Convention in San Francisco, live audio engineers Michelle Sabolchick and Karrie Keyes realized how rare it was to encounter other women in the industry, when they participated in a panel discussion on women in the audio industry. “Karrie and I have been in the audio industry for over 20 years and we never met until last year,” Sabolchick said. “We bonded over our stories and it was nice to have this communal feeling.”
Following the AES conference, Keyes realized the industry was missing a place for female audio engineers to connect, and recruited Sabolchick to help create an organization to fill this void. In March 2013, the idea was transformed into SoundGirls.org, a website designed to provide women in the audio industry with a place to connect, network, give advice and share stories.
“I left the AES panel with the feeling that none of us wanted the conversation to end,” Keyes said. “My idea was that we could do something to find the women working in this industry and create a way to communicate with each other.”
According to Keyes, women make up only five percent of the audio industry, making it a common occurrence for a female engineer to be the only woman on a crew. While Keyes said she has never felt out of place as the only female on a crew, there is something enjoyable about working and talking with other women in the industry.
“I’ve never felt outside of a crew and never had a problem being the only woman on a crew, but by getting to know these women, I see that we kind of come at our jobs with a different attitude. There’s something that women bring to it that men don’t always have,” said Keyes.
Since the Website’s launch, Keyes and Sobolchick said, it has received positive feedback from many members of the audio industry, both male and female. It offers forums for women to discuss their careers and offers prospective female audio engineers with advice on how to build a career in audio.
“It’s really important to have support and having women that are veterans in this industry is great to provide as a role model,” said Keyes.
Sabolchick emphasized that the Website is not meant for women to complain, but instead to offer each other support and connections in a male-dominant field. “It’s nice to have a place where women can be there to support each other with specific issues,” Sabolchick said.
Each month, SoundGirls.org profiles a woman in audio, introducing the woman to the site’s members and offering a visual of what she does in her career. Keyes, Sabolchick and Kelly Levstek, a recent graduate from Capital University and current employee at Eighth Day Sound, also blog about their current experiences working in audio. Blog entries have included stories about the tours they recently worked on, and in Levstek’s case, how she interned with Eighth Day Sound, and then later landed a job with the sound company.
Since SoundGirls.org is still a new website, Keyes and Sabolchick said they have many plans for the future. Keyes said she hopes to get the organization more involved in community outreach, and ultimately gain non-profit status so they can offer scholarships to young girls looking to start a career in audio engineering.
To learn more about SoundGirls.org, visit their website at www.soundgirls.org.