Take a look at the liner notes to any given album and you’ll see there is a skew towards male staffing in the world of audio engineering and production. Considering there are so many talented women looking to work in this field, this should not be the case. While there have been steps in recent years to level the playing field, there is an institution that is doing an excellent job expediting that process. That institution is called Women’s Audio Mission.

Women's Audio Mission WAM-SoundSnap
Image courtesy of www.womensaudiomission.org

What Women’s Audio Mission Is All About

Women’s Audio Mission is exactly that — a professional recording studio built and run by women for the proliferation of educating and giving a voice to women looking to enter into the production world. At WAM, art and music are taught alongside science, technology, and computer programming for the purpose of equipping women with the ability to raise a higher stake in the production field.

Started in 2003 by Terri Winston in San Francisco, WAM has been an excellent starting point for thousands of young women interested in media. “Nothing makes me happier than when one of our students or members lands a job, internship or project through WAM that really changes her life and jumpstarts her career,” Winston explains in an interview with Her Campus. “When women aren’t part of the technical and production side of the media and music content that we consume, women’s views, interests, and perceptions aren’t represented in our culture. I wanted to see more women with the technical power to make a change.”

Recently, WAM was profiled in the THX-produced audio series, “Why Sound Matters” which shows teachers and students at work and the ins and outs of what makes it such a unique organization. “Less than 5% of women are creating all of the messages, sounds, media, in that constant soundtrack in our lives,” Winston states in the episode. In WAM’s profile on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls she elaborates,“If I did a straw poll of how many people spent their day in complete silence today, that would be no one unless you’re on a meditation retreat.” The unevenness of that is not just a problem for the few women in the industry, but the industry’s byproduct. The less that women have input in the field, the less a female perspective will be felt throughout media itself.

“There’s also been a decline of women entering STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs. We made really great strides in the 80’s and continued that way but in the early 2000s, there was a 70% backslide.” With WAM, audio production is a gateway – a “carrot” as they describe on their site, for educating women not just on media, but in how to combine science and technology and incorporate it into the craft. “Girls who can’t visualize themselves in this world, we have to make that environment for them. We’re basically creating this environment where they can see themselves becoming engineers, producers, and beatmakers.”

The proof of WAM’s success in its mission statement can be seen in its direct output. They’ve placed countless jobs for its students throughout the years and its studio has made records for over 150 artists including Kronos Quartet, Tune-Yards, and 2014 Grammy-winner Angélique Kidjo, among many others. As a two-time Google RISE winner and receiver of the Best of the Bay award for San Francisco Bay Area Guardian, WAM is a trendsetting force that is making positive headway in media for women everywhere.