Tuesday’s all-day Women in Technology Symposium was a first for InfoComm. In what will become an annual event at the show, the symposium brought together a group of smart, accomplished women from a variety of backgrounds—all with a shared goal to advance women in the AV industry.
The session was kicked off by Rachel Bradshaw, InfoComm’s curriculum development manager who co-moderated the event. We learned that 89 percent of 2013 InfoComm attendees are expected to be men, sparking a lively discussion among the 35 women attending the event. Attracting more women to technology fields is a priority because the AV industry is facing a shortage of qualified workers. Women can fill this void.
Johanne Belanger, president, AVW-TELAV, president-elect InfoComm International, inspired the group with her personal view on the responsibility we have to help women succeed in technology fields. I appreciated her candor and honesty as she discussed battling cancer and how we need to be “present in the moment.” As women, we are always busy, but, as Joanne pointed out, “there is always time if you make it a priority.”
Freeman, which is the parent company of AVW-TELAV, has launched a comprehensive diversity and inclusion program that should be a model for every company in AV. The Freeman Women’s Development (FWD) initiative includes mentoring and sponsoring opportunities for young women in the company. They are currently running a pilot mentoring program, which pairs 25 young women with executives (both male and female) for a year of mentoring. They also conduct monthly webinars with topics tailored to women.
The symposium attendees were engaged throughout the five presentations and panel discussion, allowing for a number of thoughtful conversations. What struck me, as I listened to women discuss how to improve audio quality and the end user experience among many other technical topics, is that these conversations are not unlike many going on right now at the show. It might surprise some that a room full of women would engage in a passionate debate about audio technology. Maybe next year it won’t.
Look for the second annual Women in Technology Symposium at InfoComm 2014 in Las Vegas.