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Women In Sound Women on Sound Image courtesy of Dr Rebecca Collins
Women In Sound Women on Sound (WISWOS) identifies the need for action to tackle issues of inequality and gender bias in sound and music technology.
Linda O’Keeffe is Head of Art at Edinburgh College of Art, and is founder of Women in Sound Women on Sound, working alongside colleagues within Edinburgh University and from institutions around the world.

WISWOS is an international hub of networks and individuals, including artists, researchers, technologists, musicians and archivists with an interest in sound, technology and education. This network plays a pivotal role in supporting this interventionist activity. Our core aim is to interrupt the gender gap by highlighting the work of women who are writing, and creating in the sonic arts.

Our goals begin with making visible women who work in the multitudinous areas of sound from music technology to sound art, sound and society to the politics of sound, and every area in between. We are doing this by creating event spaces for presenting workshops - symposiums - peer-to-peer networking events and performance/exhibition opportunities. We also aim to explore how secondary school education shapes girl’s participation in the fields of music technology and the sonic arts.

Women In Sound Women on Sound logo

Our goals begin with making visible women who work in the multitudinous areas of sound from music technology to sound art, sound and society to the politics of sound, and every area in between.

Our current project, 'Sounding The Feminist Body' an Arts Council England funded project, led to a seven-week artistic research project in Brazil Summer 2018 with Prof Isabel Nogueira and Dr Rebecca Collins (Edinburgh College of Art) to explore merging the work of WISWOS with the gender research unit EGM at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, and the gender and music group Sonora.

While there we developed a number of collaborative projects working with women across the spectrum of sound from performance, education, composing, sound engineering and mentoring. We explored topics such as gender, sound and space, performing gender, education and girls and pedagogy and feminism.

WISWOS worked to develop a methodological  practice called Sounding the Feminist Body. The goal was to create new approaches to exploring the history of women's participation in the sound arts in Brazil, develop new practice-based techniques, resulting in the development of a new body of work, and an innovative methodology for community outreach projects. Go to link to find published paper on research activities.

Our previous project, ‘Research in a Box: Activating Women in Sound’ (RIB), funded by the University of Lancaster, aims to make practical pedagogical interventions to bring women and young girls into inclusive learning zones.

The project consists of three main strands. The first is an online learning space with video tutorials on diverse topics including Sonic Pi and audio engineering. The second is an online interactive space helps browsers to locate the work of female authors, both contemporary and historic, in new and engaging ways. The third strand is a loanable box aimed at GCSE or A-Level school students. The box contents include a series of toolkits for would be noisemakers to construct their own instrument, CDs of women composers and publications by female academics on sound and music technology, as well as open access live coding software to install on most operating systems. The overarching aim of this project is to inspire the next generation of researchers and to aid in the transition of pupils from school to University.

WISWOS was established in 2015 at Lancaster University by Linda O’Keeffe as a space to showcase women’s contributions to computer music (the use of computer technology to compose and perform music), the sonic arts and sound studies. Since then, the network has collaborated with people from across the world and continues to instigate initiatives to tackle the industry’s gender gap. Founder Linda O Keeffe and network members co-organise activities and research projects. These include Rebecca Collins (Edinburgh College of Art), Tony Doyle (UK/IRE), Diana Chester (AUS), Iris Garrelfs (US) and Patricia Alessandrini (Goldsmiths University), Isabel Nogeiura (Brazil) SONORA (Brazil), Octopus Collective (UK), Yorkshire Women’s Sound Network. The network is always open to new members of supporting organisations.

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