In few industries is the gender gap as obvious as it is in the field of audio engineering, where just 5% of workers are female.
SAE Creative Media Institute wants to change that statistic.
As explained by Campus Director Dr Suzette Major, “we can actively change the face of the audio industry by changing the number of females being trained as audio engineers. Indeed, as a tertiary institute, I believe it is in part our responsibility.”
To help reach that objective, SAE Auckland runs ChicMix. Set up in 2016, ChicMix is a one-day audio engineering workshop, run by women for women. ChicMix will run for its third-year next month on Saturday 9 June.
“All male staff and students are kicked off campus”, explains Suzette. “It’s a women-only zone for that one day and its remarkable how many females sign up to see inside a professional music studio.”
Over the course of the day, participants cycle through a series of hands-on workshops covering topics such as recording techniques, mixing and mastering, audio post-production and electronic music production.
ChicMix has been a sold-out event each year. Numbers are limited so that participants get a chance to get their hands-on the gear and learn some basic audio engineering skills.
Attending ChicMix helps participants realise the potential of audio engineering as a viable career option. For many they may have never considered it, in part because of a lack of female role models.
Mona Sanei (25) is an audio engineer who works at SAE and freelances in the film and music industries. She says working in such a highly male-dominated sector often presents challenges.
“It can be funny, you can get questioning looks! I was recording Stan Walker’s concert and while I was setting up my gear, I had someone ask whether I was a groupie. And at another job, I asked a staff member where the microphones have been moved to, and she said ‘I don’t know, ask the sound guy.’ I replied; ‘I am the sound guy.’”
While Mona says this doesn’t happen often, she does wish that female audio engineers were more of a familiar sight out in the field, something she confirms is changing slowly.
“I definitely have seen the number of women in the audio industry rise in the past couple of years, and I hope it continues. I hope that women aspiring to be audio engineers know that there are so many great opportunities in the audio industry, and everyone is very supportive of each other. The work is always exciting and personally, I couldn’t be happier with the path I took.”
ChicMix is held at the SAE Studios located in Parnell, Auckland. Tickets are available via Eventbrite.
SAE is a leading global tertiary educator, operating over 50 campuses worldwide across 27 countries. SAE has the one campus in New Zealand, located in Parnell, Auckland.
SAE Auckland is NZQA accredited and rated as a Category 1 provider. The Auckland campus offers internationally recognised audio qualifications at degree and diploma level, as well as workshops in Music Production.
Job prospects for audio engineering graduates are diverse and include recording studio engineer/producer; live sound technician; audio production for theatre, television and film, and all facets of the radio industry.