Female Sound Designer/Engineers/Editors????


I have just read this article from the BBC: Why are female record producers so rare? I do know of a few female sound people in the UK, but from what I can see it does seem to follow this trend and in my experience this is also reflected by the number of female students taking sound related courses at UK Universities. Is this the same in other countries? Is it different in other sectors of sound? For example, Sound Designer, Sound Engineers, Sound Editors, Foley Artists? Does anyone have any stats? Anyway to encourage more female students to apply for sound courses?


Bit Depth

Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

Reputation: 1 470

1check out the Women's Audio Mission online – Shaun Farley – 2012-08-29T16:38:59.723

Interestingly, this is the subject of an active discussion today on the Tape Op facebook page.

There should be much more discussion on this subject matter... – ron macleod – 2012-08-29T17:40:47.720

@Shaun & @ron thanks for the pointers. I'll check both of these out. – Bit Depth – 2012-08-31T10:37:19.970

Thanks to all of you that have responded so far. I'm really keen to get some more input from female sound people. How did you end up in sound? Did you take a direct path or did you come into the sound area indirectly? Did you study a sound related course? What inspired you to take-up sound? Is there anything you think is gender specific? Sorry for so many questions, but your answers could be a big help to change things in the future. – Bit Depth – 2012-08-31T13:42:31.667

I was legally blind until the age of 6. I studied piano as a kid. I bought a midi system in 89 and started scoring. I went to a high school for the Arts and studied composition in a studio for 3 years graduating early, studied audio post at James Madison University garnering a BS, paid for school working at a post audio lab on campus and setting up concert sound for touring acts on the weekends. I began my post career right out of school. It was always audio for picture for me. – Karol Urban – 2012-09-02T06:25:31.223



I am a post sound b#itch. I love it. It is everything I have wanted since I ran my Cubase system in 89. There is nothing else for me. I started competing for time in the studio at age 13.

While I do call my female comrades "unicorns", as there are not many of us, those that exist would not at all be attracted to more "artsy" course titles or different educational marketing. In fact, if anyone can find an Advanced SSL and/or Neve Automation Techniques for Post seminar or Audio Implementation course for gaming, I would be tickled.

The last statistic I read was 5% females in audio engineering by the US Dept of Labor a few years back. I couldn't tell you why it is so low. I cannot imagine a cooler gig.

All I know is that it is changing and the women that roll in audio successfully are blowing it up. Check out mixer Anna Behlmer (Super 8, Cloverfield, etc), mixer Lora Hirschberg (First Female Academy Award Winner for Audio Mix last year for Inception and also mixed Avengers and The Dark Knight this year.), or Supervising Sound Editor, Gwen Whittle (Tron, Mission:Impossible Ghost Protocol, etc). In fact, Skywalker in general has lots of audio chicks rocking the air waves.

Generally, there seems to be more females in dialogue editing, ADR mixing, & dialogue supervision than sound design, foley, and re-recording mix. But I know plenty of women on the lots in LA who can make things go "BOOM" and can surf faders. Many do so for some of the highest end audio post companies and studios imaginable. Take Ann Scibelli for example. She works for Soundelux and just finished Prometheus this year.

And just to crush another stereotype...I am also girly and hott. I love to nerd just as much as I love to get mani/pedis. We do exist. We are the complete package. We are gunning for your gigs. We are getting gigs and your studio will be assimilated. :)

Karol Urban

Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

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2All your faders are belong to us? – Stavrosound – 2012-09-02T06:53:10.647

1Another one which comes to mind too for the list is Deb Adair, she's one of Sony's re-recording mixers (and has been for a long time), impressive body of work as well. – Stavrosound – 2012-09-02T19:19:10.980

3My last film EMPEROR was mixed by Lora Hirschberg - she was so great to work with! Anne Krober would be another great sound woman, her work with Alan Splet & David Lynch is a role model to us all – None – 2012-09-02T21:56:20.760

@MixingManiac thanks for a lot a really useful info and insight. Do you think females are taking-up dialogue, ADR and mixing as a way to get into sound design and foley or is that their preferred path or are they finding it harder than men to make the transition? – Bit Depth – 2012-09-03T10:15:04.070

@ Bit Depth All the dialogue gals I know truly love dialogue. I don't think they are working their way toward anything but better and better projects. There are sound design gals and foley gals though....just not as many (In fact, Warner Brothers Underground has a female foley walker, a good friend of mine sound designs and foley edits for Danetracks and Technicolor and one of Fox's main explosion and action film designers is an outwardly unsuspectingly quiet gal.) We are everywhere. – Karol Urban – 2012-09-04T05:12:01.750


My career started in Montreal, Canada where I spent many years in post audio. To put a smile on your face and to tell you that there are lots of women working in the post audio industry there from mixing right through to ADR Supervising and on set recording. Natalie Fluerant and Diane Carrier are industry veterans there both in ADR and Natalie Moran and Isabelle Larin are veteran foley recordists- all very technical. It is truly sad to stereotype women in the industry when my experience has been the exact opposite. There are a number on female on set recordists and boom operators of high caliber working in Montreal and Toronto and there are many female foley artists who have years under their belts. Also, I found that it is about a 60% to 40% split in favor of men in the post audio industry but that is a lot better than say 35 years ago when women were stereotyped into admin jobs, make-up, costume and hair. Things are changing and I agree that technology is NOT gender specific and the quality of my past colleagues work is exceptional.

I hope that when you students read this they will be inspired to pursue their dreams in a technological area such as cinema audio. At the end of the day we all have ears and the same neurological ability to process what we hear into a creative vision.

Hope it helps


Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

Reputation: 2 113

@oinkaudio Thanks for your input. It is really interested to hear that things are changing in Canada. The key for me is to inspire women to consider and apply for sound courses, but I shall also pass your comments on to my current students. – Bit Depth – 2012-08-31T13:00:27.167


Well I have to say, I'm a woman, I'm 24 years old and I'm studying to become a sound designer also, I'm from Mexico and most of my girl-friends are into sound editing, recording, design, etc. :D


Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

Reputation: 41

That's great. I'm seeing more people around me becoming interested in this stuff too; whilst most of the fancy pro audio people are men, every class I teach or workshop I attend is made up predominantly of women radio producers and sound designers keen to extend their skill set. Perhaps we're just not hearing as much about them because the dominant discourse in this field still frames it as somewhat inaccessible. Anyway, I disagree with the idea that even rudimentary engagement with sound is that technical - especially these days. – pointy stumps – 2012-09-01T10:13:26.727

@pointy stumps so the question is how do we frame it so it seems more accessible? – Bit Depth – 2012-09-03T10:03:30.277

I don't know - but I liked MixingManiac's confident response. Outside of the film and television industry - and a continent away from Hollywood and the massive motion picture machine - I would say there are less female sound artists, designers and foley artists. But there's no shortage of girls willing to learn. What can I say? Once they get in the door, they're as fantastic as anybody else. – pointy stumps – 2012-09-04T11:41:21.657


I personally know a lot of women sound editors/engineers/whatever you want to call the profession...there are even a few on SSD here...but there's a lot of passive sexism in our industry. When guys make comments like Internet Human's comment above (no offense meant, but it's a good example), "I guess women in arts just tend to enjoy more "artistic" positions, rather than technical," or another comment I've seen here on SSD in the past, "Holy crap! There's a girl here?!" (disclaimer: may not be strictly verbatim)...it creates a hostile environment. It's like we're saying they need to justify their presence in our profession.

If you want to encourage women to pursue this profession, we have to change the way we think and talk about the idea. One of the focuses of the Women's Audio Mission, that I mentioned above, is to simply increase the exposure of female professionals; giving young women who might be interested in the field some role models they can look up to. Don't treat the women who are here like they're anomalies. They're not. They're just as talented, artistic, and technically minded as the rest of us.

Shaun Farley

Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

Reputation: 14 704

Well it's the same problem in any field which hasn't naturally formed to compromise of people from both sexes equally. If one notes there being an absence of another sex in a field, it has to be justified somehow to make it understandable and to be able to discuss the reasons behind it. But yes, the change is surely advanced with a more liberal atmosphere, where there isn't discussion about differences or "boundaries", but rather interesting possibilities in the work itself, which are open regardless of sex. – Internet Human – 2012-08-29T18:56:02.840

But I still feel that some words have a sexist clang to them. Maybe because they're mixed with practices and roles in other fields. Whereas other terms are much more liberal sounding. – Internet Human – 2012-08-29T19:03:10.247

@Shaun Thanks for your comment. I guess the lack of "Role Models" is a really important one and maybe our courses need to showcase some the the female students that we have. Maybe we need a similar thing to WAM in the UK. – Bit Depth – 2012-08-31T11:00:16.123

@Bit Depth - WAM is a global organization, they just don't have a dedicated studio outside of San Francisco. – Shaun Farley – 2012-08-31T11:27:48.000

@Shaun Thanks again for the tip. Interestingly I never hear of WAM before you mentioned it. Maybe we set-up a UK Chapter to help publicise it here. – Bit Depth – 2012-08-31T12:43:07.633

I believe encouraging females in technical fields as equally as they are pushed to males on a sociological level would help to attract more capable female minds more than anything. Language such as "sound man", etc is not as huge of a deterrent as much as the undercurrent of society to assume women want to study literature and liberal arts verses science and mathematics. I still have at least 1 person come up to me each year at the MPSE and CAS Awards who asks me who I came with or am related to who is a member... This is a much more powerful deterrant that changing terminology in my opinion. – Karol Urban – 2012-09-02T06:06:54.180


In Poland, a lot of trained sound engineers/sound editors, especialy those graduated from "tonmeister" course at Frederic Chopin University Of Music , are woman... I thought about it earlier and I think it's some sort of phenomen. ;)


Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

Reputation: 111

@Marcin Thanks I shall take a look at this course. – Bit Depth – 2012-08-31T12:27:15.287

The University of Surrey in the UK has a tonmeister course too, which also has a high female attendance.


– Skarik – 2012-08-31T13:42:51.807

BTW... If someone would like to take a look http://www.chopin.edu.pl/en/departments-of-the-university/sound-engineering/

It's strictly translated as sound engineeniring, but it's tonemeister, entrance exams are very hard...

– Marcin – 2012-08-31T21:29:00.713

1Well...a pole did invent the nagra, Na Zdrowie! – Karol Urban – 2012-09-02T06:29:54.103


I'm from Portugal and I don't know any other woman or girl into sound design in here. I attended a bachelor on Music Production and Technology and between 16-18 students per year, usually there are 0 to 1 girls. Even so, there are some live sound technicians girls and they all enjoy of a nice reputation, actually. I think they are seen as trustworthy. Within these areas, I think the ones who stand out are really good and work hard, more than most of guys, and of course if we are so few, we end up standing out.

Without criticizing anyone I agree to a certain extent the the 'engineering' is usually the weakest part, from what I've been seeing, most woman tend to focus more on the concept and so on, on a theoretical level, then technical experimentation. I guess it's only a matter of time, though.

Melissa Pons

Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

Reputation: 614

@Melissa thanks for your comments. It seems that things are very different in different parts of the world. You very much seem to pushing the technical experimentation side and using some interesting combinations of technology. Is this through personal choice or driven by what you are being paid for? – Bit Depth – 2012-09-06T10:12:39.243

Oh, it is only a matter of personal choice and taste, it's VERY HARD getting a pay gig around here, unfortunately, usually, video editors do sound design tasks. If I don't push the technical side forward I won't have any place in the market. I get more income from music live shows than anything else at the moment. When I started moving towards sound design in college, I had nothing to look for in the program so I just had to keep moving myself. It's tough but it is worth. :) – Melissa Pons – 2012-09-07T02:01:37.633

@Melissa "video editors do sound tasks" ::shudder:: ;) – Stavrosound – 2012-09-07T06:49:31.433


When I started (around 25-30 years ago) it seemed like the only females were ADR & dialogue editors and foley walkers (now called foley Artists). That has changed.

When we were cutting on film it was a dirtier and much more physically demanding job. Sound FX and design was a boys club ... not anymore. Not even a little bit.

Women are everywhere (thank god!) Where I work there are now as many women as men. Nothing is gender specific anymore. There are more male sound supervisors than female but I think that is just a remnant from the past. There is now a much bigger pool of female sound people ready to rise through the ranks and become supervisors if that is their wish. Some of us prefer to continue to work as editors and designers. It's more fun, independent, creative and you don't have to deal with the suits and budget.

There is nothing holding you back if you have the talent and the drive ... honest.

On a side note, a degree won't help you nearly as much as getting an entry level job at a sound house. This is an industry where friendships and connections will help you much more than a degree. I am working with women who started like I did as drivers and assistants. They made friends, stayed after their daytime job was done and sat in with editors and designers and learned what and how it is really done.


Chris Assells

Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

Reputation: 604

Chris, Thanks for your answer.....I'm not actually a girl myself. I actually teach on sound courses at university (UG & PG) in the UK. Since we started our courses we have had very few girls apply and even fewer actually come. I'd really like to understand why this is and see if we can turn this around. – Bit Depth – 2013-02-19T08:33:38.377


I am a 18 years old female french student in audio engineering, and well... We girls aren't so numerous (we are something like 10 for 180 students).

For my part, I want to work for live performance, music tours, festivals, that kind of things ^^

But I actually noted most of the girls actually in sound design for cinema, or as sound editors, for TV or for radio... Not so much for live shows, I'm an exception ^^

I encourage every girl interested in the job : most people know that we are not numerous and therefore think that it's hard to be a girl in a man's world ! Well, I gotta say I realized that girls were mostly appreciated in the job because we seem to have different point of views or way to work, we are sometimes more rigorous than them (I am anyway ^^).

Marie Arkan

Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

Reputation: 21


I am shocked that there is still the attitude that women aren't technical!!!! It would be great to know what aspect of studio technology isn't feminine?

A sound engineer of 25 years.

Also a woman.


Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

Reputation: 11

To be fair that was a comment from one person, that was removed and may now be being taken out of context. – Bit Depth – 2013-02-09T22:48:03.030


My live mixing mentor was female.
The badassinest sound dude I ever met.


Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

Reputation: 4 260


An interesting thread!

I'm a female composer in the UK and also do sound design as part of my compositional work. In fact, a lot of my work is hard to categorise as music or sound design - it lives on the cusp of the two. I've worked for theatre, musical performances and museums.

I've always been a sound designer/composer, ever since I was a kid in the 1970s, making fantasises about trips to the moon on a cheap Phillips Cassette machine.

I'm a classically trained musician but as an undergraduate, studied engineering: Electroacoustics. I also have a background in robotics and biologically-inspired algorithms and machines. This has been invaluable in various aspects of my work.

I'm as likely to conceive of a sound in software as I am to write a musical score these days. The software I use most of the time is MaxMSP but I also build sound-making automata (physical machines for use on stage).

I've yet to hear a convincing essentialist argument about gender and ability with sound and tech.



Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

Reputation: 11


It has been a few years since I originally asked this question and I thought is was worth an update as I have just discovered Underwire Festival. This takes place in UK and aims to promote and recognise female filmmaking talent. In particular prizes are awarded female composers & sound designers and the "prizes have an element of training and mentoring, to nurture talent beyond the festival, and work towards a more equal industry". This has got to be a good thing and will hopefully help promote more female sound people.


Bit Depth

Posted 2012-08-29T14:31:32.380

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