The Gender Connection
At the time where communication by Internet is ‘King’, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram & Twitter it’s hard to imagine that the first women in AV were switchboard operators. They were the conduits through whom we could take or make a call. However, this job was not viewed cutting edge at the time. Their prescribed role was considered to be merely another form of secretarial work. Only fit for women. Retrospectively of course, we can see how key this role was in women being accepted into mainstream technology. But where are the women in AV today?
My contribution to the AV world is not specifically technical but consultative, social and administrative; I work as a specialist Recruiter. Because I focus on AV and Digital Media markets I consider myself to be a woman in AV. Especially in view of the fact that I am here to assist candidates and freelancers with their career of choice.
This is why I joined the group WAVE headed by Abigail Brown (Hello by the way if you are reading this 😉 WAVE (Women in AV) was founded to respond to the lack of women in our industry, and to provide support for each other, inspiring women to join AV. The group is open to everyone working in AV and ALL are welcome to participate.
My daily work is organized around pre-interview scheduling, candidate interviews, job advertising and CV short-listing. From my first day it has been obvious that the percentage of female candidates is around 1%. As a little girl, I learnt that that life can sometimes be unfair. Women can face discrimination, and that would be a part of my life. However, in AV the lack of women is not the consequence of discrimination it is the result of a huge lack of awareness from women in respect to our industry. Indeed, women don’t apply for AV roles in the main making it impossible for HR departments to hire women as much as men. I think the market is craving women!
So how can the AV industry attract more women? I found one answer in a very inspiring speech by Jayne Dimmich, Senior Director, EMEA Theatre Marketing at Polycom.
I had the chance to attend an event at Polycom’s London offices hosted by WAVE.
The message was simple. The key to attract anyone to a certain career and industry is to offer them role models. Perhaps a woman who has succeed in building their career in AV presenting to graduates studying a related degree course, music, audio, video or any AV subject; diploma or even from high school. They need to meet these successful women. They should be able to listen and hear first-hand the incredible possibilities of a career in AV, demystify some of the current pre-conceptions that it is a “man’s world”.
The AV industry needs to be more present and pro-active in universities and colleges. Successful women and men should communicate their work experiences with young people in order to break the myth. I believe only then will young women start to consider AV as a potential career. Maybe then certain stereotypes of AV professionals will be altered for the better and my CV pile will be more diverse!