By Joanna Ladd : 48hills – excerpt (includes video)
Founder Terri Winston speaks about educating young women in recording studio technology—and WAM’s big fundraising bash, coming September 21.
ALL EARS For 15 years, the sound engineers at SoMa neighborhood-based Women’s Audio Mission have been applying their skills to one of the field’s trickiest problems: how to get girls involved in STEM. (That’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, for you English majors out there.) WAM, a pitch-perfect acronym, is a professional recording studio, run entirely by women, that doubles as a playground where 1500 girls and women a year learn how to create the media they consume every day. Terri Winston, WAM’s founder and executive director, is an electrical engineer who designed the studio and much of the recording equipment herself. She laughs while revealing the simple hack that all the adults in STEM seem to keep missing: “You guys aren’t even talking to the girls.”
On September 21, WAM celebrates its 15th anniversary with—what else?—a benefit concert at the Brava Theater, which shares WAM’s mission to support women in the arts. Winston asked the luminous duo St. Beauty to headline the event, after she and her students were invited to the soundcheck for Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer tour and were blown away by St. Beauty’s opening set. The Bay Area’s own Diana Gameros will start the evening with a set of traditional Mexican songs that she recorded at WAM last year. Proceeds from the event will fund WAM’s expansion to a new location in Oakland, where they expect to double the number of girls they reach.
In WAM’s gadget-filled studio, Winston mapped out how she became a sound engineer at a time when training programs like WAM didn’t exist. It takes a special kind of brain to see building a recording studio from scratch as the simplest way to fix intractable gender bias. Fortunately, Winston’s path started in the same sort of technology wonderland that she has created for her students…(more)