The Importance of Female Mentorship in the Industry

Natalie Morrison (D'Addario, Brand Communications Strategist)

I am going to be honest here - being a woman in a male-dominated industry is tough. From my experience, I have been in situations where I was spoken to in inappropriate ways or not taken seriously, simply because of my gender. Astonishingly enough, I once was told to “give a guy a call” if I ever gave up my dream of trying to work in the music industry. Trust me, I wish I was kidding.

However, through all the noise, I have been very privileged to know some extraordinary female-identifying leaders in the industry. Leaders who I have learned a great deal from and consider my mentors. I, sometimes intentionally, sought out women leaders because when I looked around the industry, I wanted to see someone I could identify with and think, “That could be me one day.” I felt this way when Robin Walenta of West Music walked into the NAMM reception as the first female Chair of the NAMM Board of Directors.

I have scoured every room, event, and meeting that I am a part of, to purposely surround myself with women who have made a tremendous impact on our industry, wanting to be just like them. I would not be who or where I am today without leaders like Lora Bodmer of Deep Communications, NAMM's Chalise Zolezzi, Laura Whitmore of The International Women's Music Network, and D'Addario's Suzanne D’Addario Brouder taking a chance on me.

These experiences have resulted in collaboration with Stephanie Lamond and Julia Olsen, to continue to inspire, connect, and grow female leadership within the industry. We feel it is our calling and responsibility to provide the same opportunities for the future generation of leaders in our industry. This sentiment is where ReVoicing the Future, a Women of NAMM Podcast (formally known as SWIM Masters), was born. Just as one revoices a chord in music, ReVoicing the Future creates a new perspective on the invaluable notes that make up the whole. It uplifts the female voices in the music products industry, which have earned their time to be the root of the chord. Notable names who have imparted their wisdom on the podcast include the likes of Lisa MacDonald, Yamaha Corporation of America; Tiffany Miranda, Girls Make Beats; Moya Nkruma, Fender Musical Instrument Corporation; Robin Walenta, President and CEO of West Music Co; and Laura Whitmore, Founder of The Women’s International Music Network, among others.

Features like Women of NAMM and open and productive conversations help bring more seats to the table and open doors for future leaders in our industry. Companies and their leaders need to continually question why it is imperative to prioritize diversity and inclusion within their ranks. As a member of our industry, if you look around the room and no one looks like you, it can often be intimidating. Diversity in the workplace is important because it brings a different perspective than one might have had before. Simply put, the world would be boring if it weren’t diverse.

I believe that together, we will help shape the future of our industry, one interval at a time.

For past and current episodes of ReVoicing the Future, please visit its new home on NAMM's Playback Blog at /playback/ReVoicing%20the%20Future.

ReVoicing the Future is a Women of NAMM podcast. Women of NAMM (WON) is an all-volunteer council of NAMM dedicated to "increasing female representation in the industry. WON will continue to pursue the vision, mission, and objectives set forth by SWIM for the benefit of women in the music products industry and expand to include female professionals in other NAMM Member categories including, the pro audio and entertainment technology segments." For more information from WON, please visit /women-of-namm.