Article by Amruta Vidwans
Jun 23, 2017
When we started Women in Music Tech in Spring 2016, among our objectives was to keep motivating women to join Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, in particular music technology. One way to do that was: 1) to give updates of activities happening within Georgia Tech and around the world, and 2) to write about personal experiences and experiences of women established in the field of music technology. And what better way to do this other than our very own newsletter!
An initial step was the committee members brainstorming for ideas and themes to be incorporated in the newsletter, as well as to discuss what the frequency of the newsletter should be. We decided on having four broad categories: 1) in-house student articles about topics related to women in music technology, 2) biographies and interviews of successful women in music technology, 3) events (from Georgia Tech and the world), and 4) selected national and international news. We wanted to launch each newsletter bimonthly around a focused topic. Professor Lerch helped us to set up the website for posting the content. We designed the newsletter and website based on group discussions with the committee. I was honored to be appointed Editor-in-Chief of the newsletter. My role included suggesting and collecting ideas for content from the committee members and students, liaising with authors, proofreading, and generally coordinating the launch of each newsletter issue.
We tried to involve both male and female students since our sincere belief is that change can be brought about through efforts from both genders. We got a great response from the students of the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology (GTCMT) department. Within a month, we had content ready not just for our 1st issue but also for the second! Of course, this required a lot of coordination with the students. The general process that we followed was to create a list of possible topics at the beginning of the academic year. We then approached interested students with these broad topics, inviting them to either write from those topics or something related of their own. Once the topic was decided by the author, she or he had 3–4 weeks for writing the article. A casual follow up on the status of the article was done after 3 weeks. An additional week or two was given for the author to provide the draft for proofreading. We ensured that enough time was given considering our busy schedules at GTCMT! The broad topics that were covered were women role models, how music tech can attract more women, how other institutes have improved gender diversity, gender imbalance in music tech, and diversity in electronic music conferences.
We wanted to highlight the experiences and challenges faced by women in academia and industry. Our aim was showing that there are women role models in music technology from whose experiences there is a lot to learn. Therefore, we decided to conduct interview sessions with leading women figures from music technology. We conducted on-site interviews with the invited women for GTCMT Monday seminar series as well as skype interviews with other international academics and professionals. We planned the interviews ahead. In general, the procedure that we followed for the interviews was: 1) set up a date and time for the interview (skype call or in-person), 2) send in advance the questions that will be asked during the interview, presented as a guiding tool, 3) ask written permission for clicking pictures and recording the interview for internal purposes, 4) conduct the actual interview at the set date and time (introducing new questions or adapting existing ones depending on the interview flow), 5) transcribe the interview, 6) shorten the interview to around 1500 words, 7) send it to the interviewee for a final glance and ask her for a profile photo, and 8) keep it ready for publication. For the issues, we have interviewed women from both academia (Grace Leslie, Emilia Gomez, Lisa Margulis) and industry (Yuxi Zhang).
We decided to give each newsletter a title on the theme the in-house articles represent in that issue, with a hope that the title will make readers curious about the issue. Me and Anna X would meet once every month to edit and launch a new issue. Each issue was carefully designed and sent out with the WiMT logo, title, and highlighted content, as seen in Figure 1. Given the busy schedule of the students, we were a little bit skeptical that the newsletter would have enough content for more than once in a semester. We succeeded in our goals: I am proud to say that the newsletter was effective and we were able to present 6 newsletter issues over the past 2 semesters (Spring 2016 – Spring 2017) that includes 15 in-house articles (4 interviews, 10 articles, 1 bio) and more than 60 selected news & events. In terms of readers, we currently have 77 subscribers, 699 website visitors from 44 countries, and a total of 1631 views.
Each of the issues were unique and addressed different topics as listed below:
- WiMT#1: Celebrating Women Role Models in Music Tech
- WiMT#2: How to Attract More Women in Music Tech
- WiMT#3: Taking Inspiration from the Computing Field
- WiMT#4: Catching them Young
- WiMT#5: Diversity & Interdisciplinarity – Need of the Hour
- WiMT#6: Women in Leadership
There are still many topics that can be added in the newsletter, and we are always open to ideas. A section can be dedicated to High School students. We can explain, for example, small programming or hardware exercises or how to use electronic instruments that we have at GTCMT. It is also important to reach out and connect to other Georgia Tech groups and write about their efforts in increasing participation of women.
Throughout the time that I have been Editor-in-Chief of this newsletter, in particular through the articles and interaction with women established in this field, I have realized two things. First, most girls do not see enough women role models around them. This affects how they see the world around them, creates a bias of having fixed set roles for men and women. Second, conscious efforts toward changing their perception and providing encouragement, mentorship and support, helps. Being the Editor-in-Chief has opened my eyes to some of the problems that women in technology face after they graduate and it has made me ready for the world outside GTCMT. It also kept me inspired to do more and help others while I was in GTCMT. It has made me realize that I can make my mark and encourage female students to pursue a career in technology. Finally, I would like to thank my fellow students at GTCMT for writing the articles and publicizing them via social media and committee members, professors for their support for the newsletter and to Anna X, without her help I would not have been able to do this! I encourage every reader of this blog to subscribe to our newsletter, get in touch with us and write articles!
I would like to thank Léa Ikkache, Chris Laguna, Vinod Subramanian, Zackary Kondak, Anna Weisling, Tori Kraj, Mason Bretan, Mike Winters, Anna Xambó, Jyoti Narang, Mason Bretan, Ashis Pati, and Mike Winters for writing articles and conducting interviews, Valentin Baillard and Tyler White for taking photos, and Deeds Davis for illustrating a bio portrait. Also, I would like to thank the readers of our newsletter for their support.