Don't wish me luck, I'll make my own
I am a female AV Technician, Audio Engineer and Control Systems Programmer. I am proud of my achievements especially working in a male dominated industry. I am smart, outgoing, I am polite, professional, and I’m good at my job. Yet I’ve spent many years questioning my intelligence and capability, my worth and my value in the workforce. I’m used to being the only girl in the room, and the minority in my field of work, and many times I’ve wondered, “Am I a ploy to gain the diversity edge?” and “Is my gender more important than my wits?”
It’s easy to feel dismayed when you allow doubt and the opinions of others to cloud your judgement. Sometimes after struggling with a problem I would say to myself “Fake it till you make it.” But I’ve come to realise I myself am undermining my own abilities when I say this. Fact of the matter is, I didn’t fake it. I spent hours problem solving to be able to come to a resolution and fix the issue.
Unfortunately, self-doubt and discrimination go hand in hand, and I can guarantee every woman has a story to tell. For me personally I have many stories, but that’s partly because I’ve also spent many years trying to find my place in male dominated scenarios. In high school, it was the local music scene. I was the singer/guitarist in a punk rock band, and just before we went on stage, competing in a local ‘Battle of the bands’, I was told by a member of another band that we wouldn’t win. “Girls in bands just aren’t as good”.
That was only the start. I was young, I believed I could do anything I set my mind to, and I was not swayed by others’ opinions. One of the worst was when I was studying a Diploma of Electronics and Communications Engineering. This was one of the most testing years of my life. I learnt an incredible amount in a short time, topped my class in soldering technique, and was really starting to believe I was a step closer to finding my place in the technology industry.
I was loving the course, I didn’t even mind being the only girl, until I failed a maths exam. I was publicly shamed in front of the entire male class, and the teachers’ misogynistic speech even had the other students in disbelief. I wasn’t even the only one to fail the exam.
I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many times I’ve felt undermined, but I also wouldn’t be where I am today, if I had given up and believed all that I heard. It is true that the Technology Industries are predominately men, but that is not exclusively the fault of men.
It is the responsibility of both men and women to show up and support one another as equals in the industry and inspire women to join the industry! Change will only come if we do something about it. There are more and more organisations now that aim to do just this within the technology sectors such as Women Who Code, Women In Technology and Code Like A Girl. These are beneficial for individuals currently in the industry as well as those looking to enter to become a part of.
“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.”
I believe once you find the right people to surround yourself with, you can excel in whatever you focus on.
I had spent 4 years working as an audio engineer and was completing the Diploma of Electronics when I found my people. I was welcomed into the Hart Automation family, fresh faced and keen to learn about the AV industry. I never wanted a desk job where I would just do my 9 to 5 then go home. I wanted a career that kept my mind and body active, and it needed to be an industry that was ever changing so that I too could continue to grow with it. I love my role as an AV Technician as it both mentally and physically challenges me every day. I started by learning to install projectors, televisions and began programming digital signal processors drawing on my audio engineering background.
Working within the Hart team, I’ve since progressed in my career, finding interest in programming control systems. There hadn’t been a Programmer in the company until I took an interest to learn, and it was only made possible with the support of the Hart team, my wife and family, and of course believing in myself.
It was not chance that got me to this point, and it was not luck.
We won that ‘Battle of the bands’, and I got an amazing job regardless of failing a maths exam.
I’ve worked my arse off to get to where I am now, and I’ve made a place for myself in the industry that allows me to be creative, solve problems, work with some amazing people, and travel around Australia doing so. I love the AV industry! I hope that my story will encourage young girls and women alike to become a part of it and find their place.
Do not let fear keep you from trying something different. The more women are in it, it won’t be so ‘different’.
“Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.”