SoundGirls Promoting Women in Audio

SoundGirls is an international organisation that supports women in audio and music production by providing the tools, knowledge and support to help women further their careers. Audiofile caught up with Karrie Keyes, Executive Director of SoundGirls to learn more about its work.

Keyes has been the monitor engineer for Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder for 27 years. She’s also spent ten years as monitor engineer for Red Hot Chili Peppers and has mixed a very diverse list of additional artists. In 2013 she formed SoundGirls with fellow engineer Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato. “Each of us had been asked hundreds of times in our careers: Are there other women doing sound? How did you get into sound? How would a young woman go about getting into sound?” said Keyes. “SoundGirls was established to provide women working in professional audio a community to come to for support and advice and for empowerment and inspiration.” Since that time SoundGirls has grown into an international organisation with over 6,000 members.

Women make up only 5% of the professional workforce in audio and music production. With the profession thriving on word of mouth and networking, SoundGirls gives women working in the industry an opportunity to meet and network with other industry professionals. “Our chapters host workshops and seminars around the world and most are free. Our members are usually open to sharing their knowledge, advice, and mentoring.” Added Keyes. “We have a job board, scholarships, highlight educational opportunities, lending library and are always available to answer questions or find people who can assist. We also feature a woman each month to celebrate women in audio.”

Although 95% of audio production is male, it appears that women entering the audio industry is slowly increasing. “We have been working to bring awareness to companies and hiring parties to provide women with the chance to get their foot in the door” added Keyes. “We have The EQL Directory to encourage people who say I want to hire women but can’t find any. Women are being hired and succeeding, but the percentage is still low.” SoundGirls’ goal is to also make sure women do not drop out of the industry and they do this by supporting them through their education and into their chosen careers.

One of the missions of SoundGirls is to provide and create opportunities for members to gain valuable hands-on experience through internships and mentorships. SoundGirls expands opportunities for girls and women to share resources and knowledge through cooperation and collaboration with other female-led non-profit organisations. “We support and staff the annual She Rocks Awards that takes place in Anaheim, California during the NAMM trade show and GIRLSCHOOL a female created and led musical festival in Los Angeles, CA. Our members both veteran and rookies donate and volunteer their time for these events.”  

In addition SoundGirls also hosts Sound Camp, a one-week camp for young girls & women ages 12-18 who want to learn about live music production. The camp curriculum was designed by industry veterans and teaches the skills and technology to run live sound. The camp helps to empower young women in under represented communities by giving them hands-on training, access to technology, life skills, and most importantly confidence.

However, it doesn’t stop there! SoundGirls runs all sorts of events for its members from workshops on audio, to soldering, to Live Sound workshops for the beginner to advanced system tuning etc and recording arts workshops as well as panel discussions.