Women on the sound desk?
Recently I played in an all-female band at a ladies conference in a local church. We each came from different churches and it was a pleasure to play alongside such talented ladies.
One of the women members of the church hosting the conference was on the PC and sound desk. She is a very competent and able person and occasionally helps out in her church with the computer duties – word projection, media playing and the usual tasks associated with that role. However, she had never used the sound desk, nor had any other female in her church, so she had been given a brief training session in terms of switching on and controlling the various volume faders. The normal tech guy set it up on the Friday evening, left her to it, and all went well, a great evening.
Then came Saturday morning. We arrived for an early rehearsal and got all set up – but no sound from the acoustic guitar or electric drums! Singers were loud and clear, keyboard fine. Poor Susan on sound couldn’t see what was wrong. I tried to help, being a reserve tech (or last resort!) in my own church, but all looked fine – nothing muted, nothing unplugged.
Finally, and reluctantly, she had to phone ‘the man’ to come and help. He arrived, pressed an insignificant unmarked button in the corner of the desk, and the acoustic guitar and drums came to life! She now knows what that button does.
This got me thinking. Why is this? Why are the majority of women scared of operating a sound desk when a young male with no experience will happily volunteer and press buttons to see what they do? Why are we scared to touch things in case we break something? Many women are extremely competent when it comes to operating the computer with the variety of tasks required, so why not the sound desk? These are questions that are worth discussing so that we can find a solution. Do the answers to any of the following provide an insight?
- Is it a male/female ‘role’ thing?
- Is it age related?
- Is it a confidence thing?
- Are the men in charge seen as too scary or territorial to be approached?
How to empower women in tech
As a result of this experience, after discussing it with our own tech guys, I made an appeal to women in our church to come for training on our systems so that we would be able to host ladies’ events without having to call on the men for help. We now have a group of females about to be trained. Our man in charge of the tech team is organising it and he and the other experts will train us. We will also use the new Sound Tech & PA training course by Musicademy, and I will follow that with a review from a woman’s point in due course.
Does your church have women running the PA?
Thanks to Brenda Cameron for this article. We’d love to know if you have women running sound in your churches and about how they find it. Please do share your stories.
Brenda Cameron herself (pictured above in pink) is no stranger to tech having trained as a professional software developer and created/developed the Power Music software for digital music display. She is one of the directors of Cambron Software Limited who sell Power Music and related hardware. Brenda is a keyboard player with her church worship band, set up the band website for managing rotas and helps out with the technical team when required.