Musician, engineer, producer.
Hello there my name is Susan Bear. I’m a professional musician and recording engineer/producer from Glasgow. I studied an sound production HND at college for two years, then went straight into third year of the Audio Technology with Multimedia degree at Glasgow Caledonian University.
I now record bands, produce music and play live in music and theatre projects. I love all things audio and recording, and for a long time struggled to meet other women like me. It didn’t stop me from pursuing this route as a career, but I totally understand how difficult it can be for women to get into audio when it can be such an off-putting gender imbalanced environment to work or study in.
I was the only girl on my college course, and one of 3 girls out of 50 students in my year at university. College I found to be not the best experience, there was a real laddish vibe and I found it quite hard to join in. Some of the younger boys were quite mean about there being a girl on the course. It made me feel very self conscious, especially about trying to use equipment I hadn’t used before in the classes in front of everyone. I did meet a few really nice people though and ended up getting through it! University was a much more welcoming environment and a really good experience- I don’t feel like I was treated any differently because of my gender at all. It was still discouraging to see so few other women on the course, though.
I tour playing music fairly regularly, and have encountered female sound engineers rarely - I am usually surrounded entirely by a touring part of mostly men, male crew and male sound engineers.
Only recently have I started meeting other women who work in audio, but they are still few and far between. It would have helped a lot to have had more women on the course, or to have met some female professionals working doing what I wanted to, or to have had even one female tutor, lecturer or guest speaker. I really feel like there have been times I’ve had my knowledge or expertise not taken seriously because of my gender - you have to prove yourself to people - because you don’t look like someone who normally does that sort of thing. That can be a horribly frustrating situation to be in especially when you have no-one around to talk about it with.
Projects like That’s Sound are really positive and valuable right now: it would have been really beneficial and encouraging when I was younger to see different roles and options that people similar to me had taken to get into audio engineering. I hope That’s Sound will join up the women dotted around Scotland working in different disciplines across audio, creating a network and making us more visible. There needs to be more women in technology and audio, and for ‘technical’ skills to stop being seen as skills just men posses. Exposing girls to tech and audio technology earlier on and showing them it is an option for them will hopefully narrow the gender imbalance within the industry and eventually create more equal opportunities.