Sound Women is a new organisation for women working in audio. They aim to raise the profile of these women and celebrate their achievements, helping to build confidence and boost them up the ladder through networking opportunities and leadership skills.
So why are they needed? And why now?
To coincide with the creation of Sound Women Skillset has published a new report; Tuning Out: Women in the UK radio industry. The report has highlighted that despite having a higher level of education than their male peers, women in radio are earning less, are occupying more administrative based roles and less of the technical studio based positions, and are not progressing to senior roles within the industry.
91% of all British women listen to Radio every week making radio one of the biggest communities in the UK. Making sure that this community is representative is something Mary Dowson, Station Manager at Bradford Community Radio, believes is important, “We have big role to play in community cohesion, enabling people to appreciate each other’s views, cultures and music, putting it in a local context. For instance, we always do a broadcast for International Women’s Day and I was working with an Asian woman, interviewing a girl who had self-harmed, an issue not talked about in Asian communities. My co-presenter was able to offer an entirely different perspective and we were able to have a much richer programme.”
Maria Williams, Founder of Sound Women, believes that the Skillset report is invaluable, “It has already helped Sound Women identify the issues we need to tackle in radio. We now know for example that women are paid on average £2,200 a year less than their male colleagues, that more women than men are leaving the radio industry after the age of 35, and that women still struggle to make it to the very top – just 17% of those at Board level are female.”
Maria set up the group the morning after the last Sony Radio Academy Awards but didn’t expect what came next, “The response was amazing, with women from all over the UK and Ireland wanting to join on the spot and swop stories.”
So far some pretty high profile women have signed up; board members include broadcaster Fi Glover and journalist Miranda Sawyer, and anyone taking a look at Sound Women’s 200 list will see a glut of familiar names. Not bad for an organisation only created five months ago.
But Maria is keen to stress Sound Women is not all about the famous voices, “For every Dame Jenni Murray there are scores of young women looking for role models and a way forward.”
One of the groups first actions has been setting up a mentoring scheme with the BBC Academy. Some of the brightest and best women in the business will receive training to become mentors offering a fantastic opportunity for women just starting in audio.
Read the report – Tuning out: Women in the UK radio industry.