The Start of Sound Women

The morning after the last Sony Radio Academy Awards I rashly declared the need for a ‘women in radio’ group.  The response was amazing, with women from all over the UK and Ireland wanting to join on the spot and swop stories…  It’s taken a while to get here, but yesterday a group women working in audio – BBC, commercial and online – went into the first ‘Women in Radio’ meeting at BBC Broadcasting House, and emerged two hours later as ‘Sound Women’.

Sound Women L-R: Sue Ahern (Creative People), Rebecca Maxted (Wise Buddah), Heather Davies (Young Women in Media), Sue Carter (JackFM), Lorna Clarke (BBC Radio 2), Natasha Maw (BBC Academy), Kate O'Connor (Skillset), Francesca Panetta (The Guardian), Fi Glover, Karen Stacey (Bauer), Miranda Sawyer, Maria Williams, and Nicky Birch (taking the photo!)

Skillset figures show that more women currently come into radio than men, and they are better qualified (4 in 5 women have degrees compared to 3 in 5 men).   But they’ll be paid  on average £5,579 less than their male colleagues every year of their working lives.  And by the time they’re 35, many will have abandoned the industry.

So what can Sound Women do?  Well we’re starting by creating a network of 300 inspirational women, who’ll appear on panels at the Radio Festival, put themselves forward as Sony or Arqiva Awards judges, and start being the visible face of women in audio.  If you’d like to nominate someone – or yourself – to be on this list contact me.  We’re collecting names until July 8th, and these women will be the first Sound Women members.

We’re also going to make it easier for other women to see who’s out there using social media.  We’ll set up mentoring schemes, run training sessions, hold events, and find family friendly ways to network across the whole industry.  Ultimately we’d like a glitzy awards ceremony, celebrating the work of female programme-makers and presenters, and recognising the unsung heroines who hold this industry together.

Sound Women will take a while to fully hit its stride, but has the potential to make the whole industry a fairer, more representative, more exciting place for everyone to work.  About time too.  I’ll keep you posted.