Women in AV
An interview with our Co-Director Jules Gregory
By Kieron Eales – 15th February 2021
Recently, CEDIA’s Sam Ventura spoke out about women in the AV industry. Sam spoke about the lack of women working in skilled trades – and how very often, whether due to circumstances, situations or settings, women working in these industries are often overlooked. There is no denying that with groups such as Women in AV, otherwise known as WAVE, and influential hashtags such as #womenintech and #womeninstem, that women in the skilled trade industry are beginning to gain some recognition. We have made a lot of progress, but there’s still a long way to go. CEDIA recorded that in 2020, women typically made up only 3%-5% of the skilled trades workforce. In their recent survey, WAVE found that half of all females have no mentor within work, followed by 28% who count men-only as their career advisors. This represents a worldwide, larger issue, with STEM industries continuing to attract more male attention than female., According to Catalyst’s 2019 Women in STEM Report, females represented just 36% of all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields worldwide, with less than 20% holding technical engineering and science roles.
This is undoubtedly part of a larger problem, but for AV specifically, we see small changes beginning to happen. Thanks to industries like Women in STEM and WAVE, we’re now starting to see more advocacy groups, companies invested in diversity and gender equality, and more funding secured for those that wish to pursue technology and engineering. Additionally, panel participates are now including more women and people of colour, to address the issue of the lack of diversity within the AV industry.
For Cerebrum Systems, the topic of women in AV is nothing new. We wanted to speak to our very own Jules Gregory, co-Director of Cerebrum Systems, to find out her views on the topic of women in AV and what she thinks the benefits are to having females in the AV workplace.
Why do you think there is a lack of women in the skilled trades industry?
From my many years’ experience within the world of AV, it has been solely a male dominated industry. Particularly from my generation, women were never encouraged to pursue careers within skilled trade. I am pleased to say, as many other aspects of industries nowadays, AV and Home Automation is part of everyone’s lives and is now attracting woman to be part of this ever-growing industry worldwide.
In your opinion, what are the benefits that women can bring to the currently male dominated skilled trades industry?
I feel woman have additional strengths when it comes to speaking to the client about how systems will fit within the interiors and how it can integrate throughout the home. I find some clients get nervous that systems will overpower their home, and I also find clients more open when females are part of the team.
What do you think needs to be done for more women to be encouraged to work in the skilled trades industry?
Along with the technical side, there are so many different aspects to this industry – from networking, procurement, design and project management. I feel this is an excellent industry for woman to be part of and these areas of skill sets should be promoted towards woman as well as men.
“It was challenging to gain respect.
But if you make yourself heard, people will listen and respect you.”
You’ve worked within the AV and the skilled trades industry for a long time. How have you found your experience working in the field?
Since I first started, there has been a huge turnaround on how this whole industry works. We are now seeing a rise in young women working in AV, because we grow up around that technology. The choice of products, the high standard in people’s knowledge, slick installs and how this is now part of everyone lives. When I first entered this industry, it was mainly working on installs for multi dwelling developments, many years ago. As soon as a woman walked on site it felt like a black cloud had landed. That was due to it being a building site and woman were rarely seen. It was challenging to gain the respect. But if you make yourself heard, people will listen and respect you.
Despite challenges ahead, we are hopeful that the number of women working within AV will continue to rise. It’s also important to note that currently, approximately 80% of women working within the industry are White/Caucasian, and so increasing diversity is crucial. Additionally, there is a significant lack of females in AV between the ages of 18-25, and so providing STEM education can help to encourage young women to pursue a career path they may have previously thought was inaccessible to them. WAVE’s study noted that the AV Industry needs to focus its efforts on recruiting both young women and minorities into the field.
We pride ourselves on amplifying women’s voices at Cerebrum Systems, and we are hopeful that through continued support and education we can further encourage women to enter the industry.