AVIXA's 2020 Women in AV Award: Sarah Becher, CTS-D, CTS-I

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.

Read more about all of the 2020 AVIXA Award winners.

Sarah Becher, CTS-D, CTS-I

Sarah Becher (Image credit: AVIXA)

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.

To read more InfoComm Connected stories, visit avnetwork.com/tag/infocomm.

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.