Response to BBC article: Why are female record producers so rare?

by caro on August 30, 2012 · 1 comment

Thanks to Women in Electronic Music postings I happened across this article that appeared yesterday on BBC website:

Why are female record producers so rare?

And it is great that this question is still being asked, but yet again a very complex issue fails to be unravelled thoroughly. This does tend to frustrate me a tad when it’s the same old (negative) questions and the debate is not moving forward enough for me.

My initial response was disappointment. The same old what we are not doing.

Hence why I set up last year a new page on here called Women in.. compiling resources on what we lasses are doing in the fields of electronic music and studio recording.

And there was me thinking things had improved, I was starting to transcend my own gender separatist outlook. And I was also assuming a trickle up effect was surely occurring as I come across increasing numbers of lasses in the sound engineering trade. I guess this might be as I was more aware that the role record producer has become a little outdated as most music industry producers are not working the big time pop sector, and the roles of producer, engineer and artist are much more blurred nowadays it seems.

VU meter

But actually this article does present more positive and encouraging voices. One of the top pop producers Steve Levine’s comments generally resonate agreeably and some interesting sharings of experience from Trina Shoemaker.

I have to take issue with a couple of conclusions though. “There are no social barriers to a woman becoming a record producer,” says Professor Susan Rogers.

Having been asked this question lots of times I came to the conclusion it is about confidence and someone once hit the nail on its head for me when she said many girls just don’t consider it an option. I don’t see how anyone can isolate social barriers from career choices. Could once get away with claiming the same for lawyers, doctors, MPs etc?

Also, the point about the job being too hour intensive and demanding for women does not wash with me. Being a successful fashion model, athlete, dancer, nurse or Mum requires dedication and long working hours. I think it is alot more due to it being a more hidden and elusive profession.

gracie tape machine 1.1

And as Steve Levine argues, I would say our conditioning predisposes us to have some useful recording engineer/music producer qualities: empathy, listening and caring etc. Though I would not subscribe fully to such assumptions as I know a fair few male engineers/producers who also possess these qualities and skills.

Anyway, give it a read and perhaps a moment or two of your reflection. It is ultimately one of the more positive/helpful articles on the subject that I have come across.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Connectionist November 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I think many women may be put off by the idea of becoming a sound engineer because they see it just like any other computery / geeky job, as involving too many hours sitting alone in front of a computer and never talking to anyone, i.e. a “lonely” job? And it sure is! If the perception is that it’s a lonely job and many women prefer to work in teams with people and use their excellent “people skills”, maybe this is one of the reasons why they are not attracted to the profession.

The argument about reproduction though pisses me off. In a healthy relationship both the father and the mother should equally share childcare, anything else is an excuse. Of course if the said father doesn’t consider his partner’s job to be as important as his own, he may not be willing to put hours in childcare and hence deprive her from advancing in her “geeky” or not career. But this is something that the two of them need to work out together.

On a more upbeat note, I believe that the social and attitudinal barriers are always broken via putting the commercial motto “Just Do it” into practice. As you have already proven yourself ;) <3

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