People all-too-commonly imagine that electronic music is dominated entirely by men, when it simply isn’t the case. While the world of electronic music is certainly heavily tilted to the male side, part of the problem is that women too often get less attention, less credit, less PR, and less widespread dissemination of their music — listeners are biased, in other words.

Our friends at Cynthia have a huge list of major female composers and musicians:

Girls on Synth []

And yes, among the various names is Cyndustries’ own Cynthia Webster (pictured) — it all began with a high school purchase of an ARP 2600, she says. Unfortunately, the list isn’t terribly up-to-date; the link to my own composition teacher at Brooklyn College Tania Leon is broken! (More on her here, though most of her work has been for unplugged instruments.) So is the link for NYC’s own Keiko aka o.blaat of Share fame. But, it’s a start, and has some great resources at the bottom. Women in synthesis aren’t just an occasional oddity: you’ll see some of the most important names in the evolution of electronic music. Music using electricity simply wouldn’t be what it is today without its often-unsung female pioneers.

Got some women pioneers you’d like to point out . . . or just a female reader and want to brag about your own work? Drop us a line. Incidentally, for reference, I’d say easily 50% or more of my own colleagues are female in interactive art and electronic music alike . . . and I notice nearly half of the people who register here on CDM. Gender imbalance? Not necessarily. -PK

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  • Guest

    eliane radigue was (and is) a huge influence on my approach to sound. in particular, her intense, minimalist drone works "adnos I-III" and "trilogie de la mort". i love the fact that she has created almost all of her work for the past three decades on a single arp synth. highly recommended.


  • Guest

    Wendy Carlos – Bach + Moog = Art

    Delia Derbyshire Dr Who Theme! [amongst many others] doo da doo da doo…

    Laurie Anderson [Is she really married to Lou Reed? Who would have thunk it!]

  • admin

    Absolutely, on all three counts. And the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was really a hotbed — not only Delia Derbyshire, but Daphne Oram, too.

    Good story on Oram at (where else) the BBC.

    Another of my teachers, Thea Musgrave, hung around the BBC Radiophonic Workshop regularly. I don't think she produced much there, though, other than a radio play she did once. She was always fascinated by electronic music production, but was mystified by it — I probably would have been, too, I have to admit, had I grown up decades earlier!


  • Guest
  • Guest

    Bebe Baron – she and her husband had one of the early electronic music studios, and did the score for "forbidden planet"

    Pauline Oliveros – was and continues to be a pioneering composer of electronic music.

    Laurie Speigel – worked on synths in the 70s and explored fractal music.She has some cool software.

    Annea Lockwood – another pioneering composer.

  • Guest

    How about the very gothic and enchanting Hypnotique -like Clara Rockmore, also a thereminist?

  • Guest

    Suzanne was a sound designer in NYC in the the 80's and 90's Her web presence is at

  • Johanna M. Beyer 1938!!! First female composer to score for electronic devices!!!

    Daphne Oram-Director of the BBC Radio Workshop. Inventor of

    Oramics Machine.

    Laurie Spegiel-Worked with Max Mathews at Bell Laboratories

    Bebe Baron-Co-Composer of the first electronic Film Score

    Anne Dudley-Artist, composer, arranger, Film Score Artist, Producer

    Diane Thome-First women to get a Ph. D. in Composition from Princeton!

    Pioneers All!!!!

    Patrice Devincentis

    Digital Audio Engineer

    Member of the Corp of Female Electronic Artists!!!!

  • Anton

    Electronic music traditionally has appealed to gay men. But might I add that many early female electronic musicians were lesbians and then there's Wendy Carlos who's a transsexual woman.

    But funny enough, these days it seems like electronic music has slightly more women than men and Im not sure why..

  • maisie

    where is the female Aphex Twin? The female Digitalism, Autechre, Kraftwerk, T.Raumschmiere, Human League, Modeselektor, Orbital, Prodigy,Stuart Price, etc etc etc? Why does it seem that there are so few women electronic/dance music pioneers & producers (and I don't mean electro-pop lite like L.Boots et al)? I am a woman who listens to a huge amount of electronic music and am saddened that the best stuff seems to inevitably have been made exclusively by men!

  • Em wilson

    Maybe instead of being down about not having a female Aphex Twin it might be more procutive to be amped about having any of the women on the list above in the dugout.

    In fact, it really has the vibe of selling them all short.

  • Heidi Mortenson! She's known to do everything herself. She composes, records, produces and mixes. Very skilled woman. 

  • Jimbob

    does it cou8nt if the women mentioned has a penis ?

  • Jimbob

    does it cou8nt if the women mentioned has a penis ?

  • Jimmy

    also if  ‘ she ‘ is a ripoff merchant

  • Jimmy

    also if  ‘ she ‘ is a ripoff merchant

  • baward

    I have a couple of 60’s/70’s albums by Ruth White. They’re pretty awful.

  • baward

    I have a couple of 60’s/70’s albums by Ruth White. They’re pretty awful.