The AV industry is full of superstar women catapulting their companies to new heights. But more than 90 percent of men and women alike said in the 2018 Women in Technology survey that women are still underrepresented in tech and tech leadership.
Educational programming starting as young as grade school all the way to in the workplace is making great strides to encourage more women into the space. One of the best ways to inspire? By sharing experiences.
Enter Christa Bender.
Christa has been working in the AV Industry for 15 years. Based in Pennsylvania, she’s the Client Services Manager for Pivot Communications and has a ton of certifications and affiliations – she’s CTS-certified; an active member of the AVIXA (Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association) Content & Learning Committee; AVIXA Women’s Council ‘Career Empowerment Alliance’; Commercial Integrator’s ‘Top 40 Influencers Under 40;’ ‘Commercial Integrator’s ‘103 #AVTweeps You Must Follow on Twitter’ (@AVChrista) and ‘Young Leaders on Twitter;’ the host of Tech Chaos podcast for rAVe Publications, and the list goes on. You get the picture – she’s got street cred.
We sat down with Christa to talk about her success story and how she feels about the number of women in the AV industry.
What got you started in the AV industry?
Previously I worked in the hospitality industry. I enjoyed the travel perks that I had there, but I wasn’t really digging the overall experience. I wanted to try something different with my career. Since I like to learn and wanted to get a little bit more knowledgeable about technology, I decided to go for a job in AV.
I started working as an integrator. Prior to that I had no idea that the AV industry existed. I knew parts of it were there – things like TV broadcasting and streaming, but I didn’t realize there was an actual career to be had outside of working in television, TV studios or film.
As a woman working in technology, how do you achieve work-life balance?
I think work-life balance is huge. It’s something I focused on a lot this year for myself. This year, I spent a lot of time outside of work volunteering for a variety of places. I got really involved in my local cycling community and helped them with putting together events and raising awareness. I’ve been much happier with my work-life balance, because now I have an outlet when I don’t want to talk AV nerd stuff anymore.
That’s a uniquely female topic too, work-life balance. You don’t hear men talk about that very much, which might be why we’re seeing a lot more women in tech now, but not in technology industries. I work in technology, but I’m a marketer. We’re in tech, but we still haven’t really pushed through to get those technical roles.
How can we help encourage women to pursue STEM careers?
With organizations like GeekGirlCon and PowertoFly, there’s more availability and awareness.
GeekGirlCon is something that’s close to my heart. The organization empowers women and girls to pursue their passions, whether it’s science, gaming, literature, comics — whatever it is. Every year they have a two-day convention that helps promote the fact that they can share geeky information with each other, build a community, and learn how to promote the role of women and other under-represented groups in their ‘geek culture.’
PowerToFly helps women to find jobs, events, webinars, and mentoring that can help them improve their work-life. They thrive to raise awareness that diversity hiring matters and that employees are valued for their work and not the amount of time spent in their office chair.
What’s the risk of not encouraging women to pursue technology careers?
I think we lose a lot of potential for both boys and girls who don’t get involved in STEM. If more students don’t get involved, where will the next generation of tech leaders and visionaries come from? The people leading our industry have been around for many, many years, and the industry isn’t getting any younger.
We need new blood, and I want it to have a lot more powerhouse women. If people aren’t aware of the types of jobs and positions that they can do with STEM-related careers, it’s a detriment to our industry. We need to raise awareness, starting young.