Sound Women, a community organisation of women in audio and radio which has been challenging gender stereotypes in the industry since its inception, is set to close in 2017.
But the legacy of this group of women, which started from humble beginnings in 2011 as a small collective, will continue to live on.
Two main factors have recently affected the organisation’s ability to operate sustainably.
While Sound Women could occasionally pay people to run specific projects or help with ongoing administration, it is run almost entirely by volunteers. Real women with real jobs have given up their time to help the organisation exist, supporting and representing women in audio over the years, and it is for this reason why it unfortunately cannot continue.
Also, until last year, its membership subscriptions were supplemented by grants from organisations like Creative Skillset, helping to pay for the Sound Women mentoring scheme and its programme of events and festivals. Yet, the charitable and social enterprise sector has borne its share of austerity cuts and for the last year Sound Women has existed almost solely on subscriptions from members, which also cannot continue.
However, in a bid to carry on its work supporting women in audio, the organisation has announced a number of upcoming events, including free technical training in a number of major cities across the UK, an ‘Ambition’ event in Manchester, and a special Sound Women Christmas disco in London – details of which can be found here.
It has also announced that it will be running a mentoring scheme in 2017, with applications open to full members and details available soon.
Sound Women has placed over a hundred women in mentoring schemes, enabling them to be supported by some of the brightest professional women in radio. It also claims to have inspired the creation of other groups including the BBC’s ‘Global Women in News’ network (GWiN), and ‘Women in Somethin’ Else’ (WiSE).
Perhaps most importantly, the collective has changed the dynamic of the industry to make people a lot more conscious in their decision-making, and strongly believes it has inspired and empowered the current and future generations of women in audio; ensuring men understand the value and importance of involving women at all levels and all aspects of the industry.
While the organisation is set to close, its work will undoubtedly continue and there is evidence to suggest real social change is occurring as a direct product. Earlier this year in April, the BBC pledged that women will make up half the people who appear on its TV and radio stations and in leading on-screen roles by 2020.
Sound Women members will continue to enjoy all their membership benefits, including the upcoming events and training programme, until 31 December 2016.