Sarah Becher, CTS-D, CTS-I, project engineer with AV Calibrations, was recently named the recipient of AVIXA's 2020 Women in AV Award. We sat down with her to hear more of her story.
AVN: How did you get your start in the pro AV industry?
SARAH BECHER: I started in broadcast engineering and then large-scale hospitality AV at hotels and convention centers. I grew weary of spending days setting up a show (projection, lighting, multiple mics, confidence monitors, etc.) and then having to tear it all down for a dinner that night within a 1.5 hour time block—installing the gear and leaving it in place seemed much wiser.
The evolution of the technology is what has kept me happy and interested.
AVN: Why is supporting women in technology important to you?
SB: Supporting fellow tech women is huge for me. Not everyone had parents who encouraged them to be whatever they could be passionate about. I remember when I graduated college with a B.S. in Broadcast Engineering and I was told during a job interview that I didn’t belong—because I was female.
I was so disheartened, but my mother said that I would show them how wrong they were ... and I did. That guy was a jerk—and his recording studio folded two years later.
We women need to set the example for other students and ladies that like wires, signal pathways, and technology. It’s not a field for everyone; it’s tough, but women are tougher. Women make excellent project managers, too. We multi-task like it’s just another thing to do, it's normal for us.
AVN: How have you personally contributed to uplifting women in pro AV?
SB: I mentor through the San Antonio Women’s Chamber—I am director of education for the organization—and I’m head of the Bloomberg business program, a six-month leadership series where we have seen a significant increase in technical members and attendees. Plus, I teach at InfoComm and other AVIXA events whenever I get the honor to do so.
I’ve been told that I teach technical content by providing the technical information in a way that fosters passion about the subject. Whether it is in presenting to a client, our staff, or others, humans want to enjoy the technology they buy instead of being afraid of it. Women are often able to present content without being intimidating, and I show them how to do that more effectively.
I think obtaining credentials is also a great way to uplift women in pro AV. I remember when I first started in the industry, there were only two women with their CTS-I, and only a handful of dual holders when I got my CTS-D. There are currently eight women in the Masters of Science in Management of Technology degree tract at the University of Texas San Antonio. We are still a small percentage, but gaining speed.
Every year, more and more, we prove it’s possible and normal for women to love technology and get paid to do it every week.
AVN: How do you hope to inspire the next generation of women in tech?
SB: I present at K-12 career days so the entire class sees how normal it is for a woman to be in this role. It’s funny to watch them when I first walk up after being introduced. Some of the boys are thinking "Huh? A girl?" There are girls in the audience that suddenly sit up in their chair and I have them captured for the whole program. Those are our future women in tech.
I’m no petite flower, so I think they can tell I’m a formidable force in an industry that gets to work with the coolest gadgets and brain-teasers at work every week. It’s not just benefiting the girls in knowing there are more of us in the world and a place for them to work. I think we also train the boys to see that tech girls are as good as tech boys, and we may be the best choice to select for their team.
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