[GTR] What is the mission of the Women’s International Music Network aka The WiMN?
[Laura B. Whitmore] Our mission is to create a bigger voice for women in the music and audio industries. We spearhead conversations that call attention to gender-related issues and shine a spotlight on female role models from all walks of the industry. Our goal is to help create real change in the industry.
[GTR] What were your key motivations in starting the WiMN?
[Laura] Years ago, I was writing a blog for Guitar World. I interviewed hundreds of female guitar players and other related industry folks. It shocked me how many of them had similar stories and how few of them had been exposed on a major media platform. It led me to want to bring the women in the industry together and create a kinship that would lift us all up.
[GTR] How has your experience in the industry shaped your vision for this organization?
[Laura] As someone who has worked in the music industry my entire career, I am passionate about attracting more women to join the ranks of the industry. I’ve often led a team of all men, and I never let it stop me, but I did learn how to modify my mindset and negotiate in a different way to move things forward. Like every woman I know I have had run ins with disappointing behavior, but I try to remain optimistic. I think it’s important to include men in the conversation about diversity.
[GTR] What are some of the stereotypes you’re working to change?
[Laura] That women don’t belong in certain positions in the industry, that we aren’t suited for certain types of work (like audio engineering), that we don’t know about gear or how to set up our own equipment, that our point of view about music making, creating and learning are not valid and interesting to both men and women.
[GTR] What are some of things about women in the music business (musicians, techs, and/or MI) that men just don’t seem to understand?
[Laura] I think the biggest thing is that we don’t want to be treated differently. We just want to be respected and given the same opportunities, benefit of the doubt, pay and expectations as anyone else that they deal with. We don’t want special treatment, we just want equal treatment. But that said, there are certainly situations in this industry that are inherently more hostile and scary for women. Working late at night at clubs or in the studio and being the only or one of a few women in those situations can be dangerous or uncomfortable. Having to put up with sexist language or “boys will be boys” interactions — it may seem like we are being petty when we react negatively but that language and those actions shift the respect level in the room and we need to demand respect.
[GTR] What are some of the ways men can better support women in their respective fields?
[Laura] Give women a chance. Know that by fostering diversity you will often get a better, more informed product. Our insight is valuable. Don’t talk down to us, mansplain, or feel like you have to give us special dispensation, but also don’t put us in a position where we are uncomfortable or threatened. Respect goes a long way for everyone involved.
[GTR] Tell us about the 2018 She Rocks Awards?
[Laura] The She Rocks Awards is our public forum to honor and call attention to fabulous female role models from all walks of the industry. We treat women from behind the scenes and top celebrities equally, as we know every story is important. The She Rocks Awards has been a flagship event during the NAMM show. The event itself takes place on Friday, January 26, 2018 at 6:30pm and includes live music, award acceptances, a silent auction, a red carpet, amazing gift bags and a huge amount of inspiration! This year we are holding it for the first time at the House of Blues Anaheim and we’ll be live streaming it on Parade.com. We’ve announced many of the honorees, who include Grammy nominee Lisa Loeb, Exene Cervenka of X, the pioneering band Fanny and more. The event is open to the public and many men also come. You can get tickets at SheRocksAwards.com.
[GTR] In what ways are you looking to grow The WiMN, and how can people get involved?
[Laura] We just launched our new website at TheWiMN.com with the goal of sharing even more stories and events. If you are a writer and want to share info about women in the industry and local performers, we invite volunteers to share news and posts.