At University of Miami, there is a small group of music engineering students (MUEs (pronounced mew-ee)). With a class size of about twelve people, we are definitely a minority at the Frost School of Music (though we are secretly taking over the school). However, there is an even more exclusive club that is the female music engineers. We are a TRUE rarity. Between all four years of undergraduate classes, there are a total of five MUE girls. Belonging to such a ~choice~ crew has its advantages and disadvantages, but I firmly believe that the good outweighs the bad for us chicks.
I have been a part of the boys club ever since I was in high school. Being in advanced calculus and physics certainly forces you to be surrounded by dudes all of the time. Now despite being around men (*cough cough, boys…*) for so long, I still don’t think that fart jokes are funny. I don’t understand why they exist because seriously, they’re just plain gross. I have, however, developed some thick skin being around guys all of the time. I have found that when you are one of three girls in an engineering class of twenty-five students, professors tend to assume that the girls are not as capable as the guys. It’s not that they think that the females aren’t smart. It is just assumed that the guys will produce better results in these classes because they are the majority. From experience, I can say with that this is generally not the case. In fact, I find that us girls tend to work significantly harder. I personally work very vigorously in these classes because I not only relish in proving to myself that I am perfectly capable of doing work just as well as (if not better than) my male counterparts, but I also like to prove it to my peers and professors. Should I have to prove myself? Not necessarily, at least not to the extent that I feel I need to. There is just something so satisfying about excelling at a subject that you’re not expected to do well at. Not to toot my own horn here, but I am a rockstar at calculus, and I actually enjoy sitting down and solving integrals and finding logarithmic derivatives. I know, I’m a huge nerd. But being an overachiever seems to be the MUE girl way!
Recently, I have been more and more curious about professional women music engineers. I was doing research for a paper that had me writing about how I could relate my knowledge of the music business to the field that I am trying to become a part of. I came across an article from the Chicago Tribune that is titled Women Roar Onstage but Barely Exist in the Sound Booth. It is about Mary Gaffney, a pioneer woman audio engineer from Chicago. Gaffney has a degree in Music Education, not Music Engineering, and got a few jobs as a backup singer when she moved to Chicago in 1974. One of these jobs called for her to sing backup in the studio, and she found that she was more interested in the recording process than the singing. She began to dabble with recording equipment and received training from a colleague, Victor Sanders. In addition to talking about Mary’s start in the recording industry, the article also discusses the massive gender gap in the audio engineering world. Women make up only 5% of sound engineers today. Female engineers even go so far as to call the audio engineering world a “bro society.” I chose to write about this article because I experience this “bro society” every day at school. I am one of two females in my class of music engineers, and, to point out again, there are only five total female music engineers in the Frost School of Music. I appreciate this article because it tells us that there are still awesome women music engineers out there, even if society doesn’t always recognize them. They are continuing to pave they way for me and my fellow MUE girls. In this increasingly feminist society, it is becoming more and more normal for women to have STEM jobs. This makes me proud to be a female music engineer, because hopefully, I can pave the way for more girls to get into this field. It is about time that women shake up the boys club!
Being a MUE girl, I truly do feel like I belong to a super-secret society, and I’m always seeking out more members. The feeling of pure joy when I met the two MUE girls in the class below me at University of Miami was out of this world. In contrast, when I discovered that in the newest class of music engineers, there are no females, I was devastated. From my first day at University of Miami as a MUE, I immediately felt welcome in my program. But it was the MUE girls who made me feel most at home. We all look out for each other, are each others biggest cheerleaders, and occasionally come together to form a super-cool-awesome-rockin’ MUE girl band! Just to note, the MUE girl band (a.k.a. "Clinical Pink Noise") can seriously rock out. We’re definite crowd pleasers whenever we hit the stage. Everyone loves the MUE girls, and it wouldn’t surprise me if people wished that they could be as ~cool~ as we are and join the band ;).
In case you haven’t gotten the gist already, I wouldn’t trade being a MUE girl for anything. We are some seriously badass ladies who are not afraid of going after what we want. We may exist in a male-dominated field, but we are forces to be reckoned with and don't let the "bro society" bring us down. Watch out world, you’ll be seeing big things from us in the future!