Women in AV: How we can all truely embrace equity

This years' International Women's Day theme is centered around embracing Equity. To celebrate, we spoke to three inspiring women who shared their experience within the AV industry.

As a company, we are proud to continually strive to ensure we do our part in helping break the bias in our workplace and industry. We feel it’s necessary to use our platform to continue the conversation around equity and celebrate the success of individuals within our industry.

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We would like to say a huge thank you to Kasia Majorek, Jenny Hicks, and Beky Cann for taking the time to share their stories. In the below article, you can learn more about how they started their career in AV, what equity means to them and any adjustments that can be made, their proudest achievement /accomplishment, and tips for other women wanting to start a career in AV.

Kasia Majorek​, Marketing Manager at QSC - Women in AV - Runtech - International Womens Day

Kasia Majorek

Marketing Manager EMEA at QSC

I was more than ready to try something new, but having such versatile interests I found it tricky to narrow down exactly what industry I wanted to go into. So, as the LinkedIn status says, I was simply ‘Open for Work’ with an open mindset.

Q-SYS (at that time QSC) approached me with a rather interesting proposal; the European business was evolving, with new offices opening in Germany and the UK. As I have experience in operations, I jumped on board to help set up the new UK entity as the Office Manager, with an outlook to move into marketing (where my passion lies) when things were up and running. As we speak today, I’m celebrating 5 incredible years at QSC / Q-SYS! Time has flown by, but only because I feel that what I do makes a difference and I can grow. The people I work with inspire me, and most importantly we have fun!

Equity to me means value and fairness.

A lot of companies within the AV industry are already working on improving their company culture by making things accessible to women that used not to be. One such thing is being considered for higher roles, but the technology developments are still lacking female representation. A career doesn’t start when an individual enters an organisation, but much earlier at college or university. Personally, I think there should be more initiatives here; more companies should work with education providers to:

A) raise awareness of the AV industry

And then after…

B) support with education programs with tailored curriculum and guidance.

With more mentoring and understanding of the opportunities available, I see more of those roles headed by women.

Most of my cherished accomplishments are the ones that I can share with my team, and within the three roles that I’ve held at QSC / Q-SYS we’ve celebrated the whole lot. But as for personal achievement, I’m proud that although I don’t hold a shiny Master’s degree, I pushed myself to be where I am today and continue to do so.

Most of the time, starting out in a new industry means not knowing a great deal. Surrender to the process, be curious, allow for mistakes and learn from them. Have fun!

With more and more awareness of equity in the AV industry, often the biggest limitation for women – the biggest bottleneck – is ourselves. So if I can give any advice from my experience so far it is to believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, everyone around you will do too, even if they need a little convincing! That being said, history likes to repeat itself, so we need to make sure the newly learned equity culture doesn’t fade away, and that the outlook for the future remains positive and inclusive.

Jenny Hicks, head of technology at Midwich Women in AV - Runtech - International Womens Day

Jenny Hicks

Head of Technology at Midwich

I am here completely by accident.  Fresh out of university I took the first interview my local recruitment agency offered, which happened to be a purchasing administration role at another distributor.  I stayed there for nearly 5 years moving into sales as soon as the opportunity came.  Somewhere along the way I became fascinated with the technology, and I made the move to join the Midwich Group in a technical sales role in 2012 so I could be more involved in project design.  I have progressed through the business managing varying teams over the last 11 years and now enjoy an international role working with all our group businesses.    

For me equity is about comfort.  We all have a right to feel comfortable in any professional setting, workplaces, customer sites and at work events.  The adjustment we can all make is to look out for anyone who may feel uncomfortable if they are a minority in that setting, if you are a group of one gender and there is a single person of another gender at the same event make extra effort to involve them in your conversation or if you are in a workplace activity with mostly senior colleagues make extra effort to engage with junior staff who may feel anxious in that environment.

Creating and growing our Midwich Live platform has been an enjoyable journey and a great example of collaboration from two sides of the world.  I am proud of it because it truly is unbiased content responding the demands of the viewers, and humbled by the number of people who tune in each month to watch us.

Jump in fully!  My confidence professionally is reflective of my comfort level interacting with other AV people and that comes from years of networking and interacting with the wider industry outside of my employment.  We have a great social community, particularly on twitter, that helps you to meet others but also stay up to date on the current topics of interest.

Beky Cann, Director of Global PR at Peerless-AV Women in AV - Runtech - International Womens Day

Beky Cann

Director of Global PR at Peerless

My career in AV wasn’t planned. It just kind of happened organically. I had no real idea of what I wanted to do as a profession. I went through school and college playing on my strengths and interests, finishing my education with a BA Hons degree and additional qualifications in journalism, media studies and creative writing. My first temp job at a business/marketing consultancy led to my first career-launching job at a B2B PR agency working with technical clients in the telecoms and security sectors. I then went to a specialist agency with electronics, semiconductor and telecoms clients, where I stayed for 10 years and during that time we acquired a number of digital signage, kiosk and display clients. This was my first introduction to the AV world….and I’ve never looked back.

We’re in a world where everyone is fighting for equity – a fair or level playing field achieved by treating everyone justly according to their circumstances. In the workplace, what’s most important is that we feel supported, and our individual needs and aspirations are listened to, regardless of background, circumstance, ability or gender orientation, since this has a big impact on our well being and productivity. Communication between employee and employer (specifically management and human resources) is crucial so that needs can be identified and addressed with specific support to bridge any gaps and help them thrive.  

Times when I feel the proudest are when the Peerless-AV team is on stage winning an industry award, and the most recent win was at ISE for our biggest dvLED installation in EMEA. It’s a lot of pressure for PR people, when you have such a strong story, and you need articulate in words and video in a way that will appeal to and win over the judges. When you get that win, and you’re celebrating as a team, it’s the best feeling after all the invested time and effort.

The AV industry is a fantastic industry to be part of; whether you’re starting out in your career or a seasoned professional. People I know that have tried to leave for other industries, have come back because they feel a sense of one big community. It’s the people and connections that really make it a fun industry to work in and, of course, the technology is exciting. Its constantly evolving and innovating. As an industry we bring all the fun; bringing projects to life with interactive and immersive sight and sound. Visit ISE and see for yourself! And meet with the AVIXA Women’s Council UK to chat through options, opportunities and available resources. One thing I can honestly say is there’s never a dull day. Every day brings a fresh challenge.

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