Women’s role in sound has largely been excluded from academic texts. The author Douglas Kahn in his seminal work, Noise Water Meat, noted that there had been no ‘fruitful studies of females’ in sound and/or music studies, though there exist numerous contributors to various sound disciplines. However, there are now some seminal texts that have been written by women on sound, which have contributed to various fields of study from ecology to music technology, urban and noise theory, listening practices and history. These authors include Pauline Oliveros, Andra McCartney, Mags Adams, Karin Bijsterveld, Hildegard Westerkamp, and Emily Thompson, to name a few. There are also publications which have sought to give voice to those working as creative sound practitioners such as the books Her Noise, and Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound.
In October 2015 the first WISWOS event was held at the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts and was supported by a number of organisations and individuals. Over 60 people attended presenting topics from; the gendered and social construction of music technologies, to women algoravers, the sound of silence in radio plays, and women in electronic sound production. The symposium highlighted the many ways in which women have and do contribute to a wide variety of sound fields including the sonic arts. A key topic raised throughout, which has shaped the next event was visibility. There are many women working in sound but within certain spaces they are not visible, one such space is that of education, particularly primary and secondary education. The two next events one held on the 22nd of April at Lancaster and the other on the 16th of July at Goldsmith’s University in London explored the topic of education and it’s impact on gender participation. A publication report on all events will be released this year.
Over the next few months WISWOS will begin to explore its role as an organisation talking with a number of groups and individuals, creating a mission statement. Its long term goal is to become a network of networks linking individuals, groups and organisations to each other, including knowledges that shape changing the current sound and technology sphere.
For more information on what WISWOS is up to and events happening in Sound please go to our blog.
Linda O Keeffe (founder)