Women in Pro Audio Vol. 3: KK Proffitt: Chief Engineer and Creative Talent of JamSync
[KK Proffitt is the chief engineer, musical editor and creative talent of JamSync. She has earned several degrees and honors in undergraduate and graduate school including a BA from Vanderbilt, completed coursework for the Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at the University of Tennessee (where she was inducted into the honors society Phi Kappa Phi), Guitar Performance Studies and Arranging at Berklee, and a graduate degree in Software Engineering from Northeastern's State of the Art Engineering School. KK is an active member of the Audio Engineering Society.]
- According to this article, women account for 5% of producers and engineers—why do you feel this is?
There aren’t a lot of women in the studio because a lot of men don’t want them to be there. There are exceptions, but the invisible burqa persists, and I’m disappointed that there hasn’t been much progress. My daughter designs games and women in games are much sharper and more up front than women in audio. I’m not sure they are making progress, either, but at least they’re honest about it. Women in the audio area try so hard to fit in when fitting into a mold that doesn’t work for them is really futile. I just built my studio, raised my children and ignored the other stuff. I wish I had more time to spend at my studio, but my elderly mother totaled her car last March and I’ve had to take over running the family farm (150 years old), selling her property, seeing to her medical care, etc. It’s one more reason why women like me have to take time off from career. After being mothers, we become caregivers. Everyone only gets 24 hours a day and a lot of us are supposed to fit 48 hours worth of work into that slot. Solve the child care/ caregiver issue, and you’d see a lot more women in audio. As it is, many of the successful women audio engineers either don’t have children or go on sabbatical to have them.
- Do you feel that, for whatever reason, that there are some elements of the pro audio field that women have a more natural predisposition toward than men? If so, which and why?
The only job where gender has been a factor is the one where I carried twins and then raised them to become a molecular biophysicist (my son) and a game designer (my daughter.) My mother was a biochemist, my grandmother was a magistrate, and my great-grandmother was superintendent of county schools, so the concept of being a woman with a career was not novel in my family. It was just confusing that the news, the school systems and nearly everyone I encountered on any job that involved technology seemed to reinforce a lifestyle ethic that was out of some dreary “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” belief. I ignored it, of course, but it certainly didn’t help me to obtain clients or money to feed, clothe, educate and house my children. Fortunately, my children are smarter than I am and would rather be nibbled to death by ducklings than work in the music biz.
- What’s your take on the idea that even addressing this situation—through a blog series such as this—is a step in the wrong direction? It can be argued that discussing women in audio as if it’s some sort of big deal further cements the troubling idea that men are normal, and women are different.
I tend to stay away from the “female audio engineer” ghetto. It does nothing to bring me business and frankly I don’t mix or master with my gender-specific parts. I’ve had no mentors, male or female, but lots of men who have tried to discourage me or separate me from the simple business of audio by trying to make me feel special. I’m not special because I was born female. I’m simply good at what I do, when I’m actually allowed to do what I do. There is no doubt I would have made a lot more money in the biz if I had been a male, but I have never wanted to be a male because I don’t think of myself as male or female when I work. I just listen and respond to the job at hand.