Today (March 8th) is International Women’s Day – a day where we highlight achievements of women from around the globe, champion gender equality and discuss how and why we should all fight for equal rights.
For a long time, women have been underrepresented in the musical instrument and audio industries. Over the years a number of forward-thinking charities, organisations and individuals have worked tirelessly to make women more visible in these sectors.
It’s not about meeting a given quota, it’s about recognising and valuing a person’s ability and achievements regardless of traditional expectations and assumptions. Giving them the opportunities they deserve. And, importantly, encouraging more women and young girls to take up a career in these industries so that they can continue to evolve, grow and thrive.
So, to encourage more talent to enter the MI and audio industries, MI Focus is shining a light on some of the amazing women who are currently making waves in these sectors.
Here are nine women doing amazing things right now in the MI, audio and music industries:
Recording engineer Olga Fitzroy (pictured above) has worked with the likes of Coldplay, The Foo Fighters and Muse, and won the MPG Recording Engineer of the Year award back in 2016. She also launched a petition to make shared parental pay available to self-employed workers.
The current system of Maternity Allowance for the self-employed places the entire burden of childcare onto the mother, and offers no financial support for self-employed fathers or same-sex partners wanting to share some or all of the childcare. The aim of Olga’s campaign is to make the £140 a week that the mothers are entitled to available to either parent.
Chris Schyvinck took over as CEO of Shure in 2016. She joined the microphone industry leader in 1989 and led the Operations Division before being named to lead Global Marketing and Sales in 2006. One might assume Schyvinck comes from a sales or business background, but she is actually studied engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Since taking over, the company has unveiled host of new products and a number of new offices and subsidiaries around the globe.
Since founding Daisy Rock Guitars in 2000, Tish Ciravolo has been dedicated to encouraging more girls and women to pick up a guitar. She has focussed on creating properly sized and weighted guitars and basses for women, and despite initial responses almost 20 years ago that “they’d never take off” the brand has sold millions of instruments and has even introduced a ukulele line this year.
Laura B. Whitmore
Laura B. Whitmore is a music marketer, singer/songwriter, event producer, and founder of the Women’s International Music Network (The WiMN) – an organisation that advocates for women in the industry and creates a hub to connect them.
She is also the producer of the She Rocks Awards, which takes place at the Winter NAMM show each year and pays tribute to women in the music industry.
Wanting to have a guitar more suited to the female body, Annie Clark aka St Vincent teamed up with Ernie Ball to design a unique signature guitar. The musician was very much involved in the design and creation process of the guitar, which comes in a range of colours including ‘Vincent Blue’, which was hand-mixed by Annie.
Not only has Mindy Abovitz founded TomTom – the only magazine in the world dedicated to female drummers – but she is also the co-founder of Hit Like A Girl, an international drum contest for female percussionists. Its purpose is to spotlight female drummers/percussionists and encourage drumming and lifelong musicianship for girls and women, regardless of age or playing level.
As the chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), Deborah Annetts has overseen a number of campaigns and initiatives aimed at supporting and fighting for the rights of musicians, music education and gender equality. These include the Bacc for the Future campaign to secure the place of music and other creative subjects in school league tables, and the Dignity at Work survey which reported on discrimination in the music sector and called on the industry to work together to tackle those issues.
Terri Winston is the founder of Women’s Audio Mission (WAM), which uses music, media and the only professional recording studio in the world built and run by women to attract over 1,500 underserved women and girls every year to STEM and creative technology studies.
WAM’s award-winning curriculum weaves art and music with science, technology and computer programming and works to close the critical gender gap in creative technology careers.
CEO of Attitude is Everything, Suzanne Bull campaigns to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music. Her organisation works in partnership with audiences, artists and the music industry to help them understand deaf and disabled people’s access requirements at music venues and festivals.
This is just a small selection of women working in the MI, audio and music industries that are doing amazing work and encouraging others to follow them into a career in the creative sector. We look forward to seeing who they inspire in the years to come.