Lyndonville, Vt. ~ The music and entertainment industry has taken some steps toward inclusivity in the past few years. But when a pro audio forum website still goes by the name Gearslutz, a Northern Vermont University alum knew there were still great strides to make.
NVU-Lyndon Music Business and Industry alum, Cameran Davis ’19, stepped in to encourage that company to pick up the pace toward change — an effort that produced a big win for women in an industry that has long been male-dominated.
Davis is currently a production assistant for two guitar pedal companies — Klon and Electronic Audio Experiments — in the Boston area. She was on the Gearslutz.com website in early January and wrote on Instagram, “I really hate this website’s name.” Her post received a lot of response, including encouragement to create a petition to get the name changed. On January 6, Davis posted a petition to Change.org. It didn’t take long to go viral in the audio production community, receiving nearly 5,000 responses in a few short days.
Davis’s petition read: “This petition was created with the hopes of encouraging Gearslutz to change their name to something that more appropriately represents the gear community. Gearslutz is widely regarded and refers to themselves as ‘The No.1 Website for Pro Audio.’ Every engineer I know has used/uses it, and most of the engineers I know feel uncomfortable with the name. I have been one of two women sitting in an engineering class and a professor has uncomfortably mentioned the website, apologizing for the name, but bringing it up because it has been an important resource to use when learning about gear.”
There was considerable push-back on social media and on the Gearslutz site itself, with many slamming the petition and any effort to change the name. The company even posted a response in an attempt to justify the name.
But the ballooning support for Davis’s petition changed all that. And on January 19, Gearslutz CEO Jules Standen committed to changing the name, with site and technical revisions complete by summer 2021.
“I do think the word matters,” Davis said. “And all of the backlash shows how much the word matters. If someone gets upset or feels threatened by this, it says a lot about them. It’s a business in an industry that hasn’t always been accepting of women.”
“That site is the pro audio industry’s biggest resource for technical information and trouble-shooting equipment. It has 1.6 million daily visitors from 218 countries. This is a huge victory for inclusivity in the audio industry.” said Music Business and Industry Assistant Professor Brian Warwick. “This is exactly what we look for in our graduates. It goes hand-in-hand with NVU’s mission — ‘Northern Vermont University fosters the intellectual, creative, and personal growth of every student in a community committed to diversity and inclusion. We provide innovative professional and liberal arts educational experiences that prepare students to be critical thinkers and engaged global citizens.’”