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This blog post is reprinted with permission from rAVe [Publications].

adele-de-berriWhen I walked into the San Francisco Library this past Saturday, I was ready-to-go and excited to pour through every periodical, microfiche, encyclopedia and card catalog available to learn about the history of women’s accomplishments and success in the AV industry.

There’s Adele de Berri, founder of Da-Lite and inventor of the “silver” projection screen; there have been three female presidents of what we know today as InfoComm International; women have contributed to film and movies since the silent film era. As I explained to the staff I was researching the history of Women in AV, everyone enthusiastically went out of his or her way to scour resources and point me in new directions where I may have found data. ‘Fantastic,’ I thought. ‘If anyone knows how to find facts, its librarians!’

One search of Google tells you all you need to know about how much information is available. Type in Adele de Berri and you receive links to the InfoComm Pioneer in AV award winners. The three female presidents of the National Audio-Visual Association (NAVA) — Hazel Calhoun Sherrill (1950-51), Eloise Keefe (1965-66) and Ann Vath (1977-78) — yield no recognition or hits. Things get better typing in the words “women in AV” and “women in audiovisual where you’ll find 21st century Women in AV award winner and articles. I thought, “no problem — the library has everything about anything”.
Except for Women in AV.  That said, it wasn’t what you might think at first. There isn’t much background on our industry as a whole. Perhaps, more poignantly, our industry’s early years are a world away from where we are today.  My search of the word Da-Lite brought up a 1955 American Library Association (ALA) bulletin that listed Da-Lite as a projector equipment supply company, as well as Bausch and Lomb (I thought they made eye-drops). The AV Communication Review from the 1920s had everything about projectors for visual communications in education. And, in 1941, President Roosevelt provided a huge step forward creating NAVA, with the intent of using film to communicate with the American people about World War II.

That’s why I left the library more optimistic and inspired about what the future holds for professional women in the audiovisual industry. We are standing on the doorway of a fresh journey and adventure to collectively celebrate, support and learn about the amazing successes and challenges we’ll all face and be proud of each other and ourselves for many years to come. I know the information is there, it just may be up to us to discover and bring it to the foreground.

What’s certain is what we may lack in numbers, we more than make up for in achievement and success across our industry. In less than four weeks, our LinkedIn group is 84 members strong and we ARE business owners and executives, consultants, editors, engineers, manufacturers, pioneers and award winners. We span the entire globe and touch every sector — publishing, product development, sales and marketing, customer service, design, sustainable technologies, and more.
Our LinkedIn group has arrived, ladies! We just need you to share your passion and desire for everything AV. Our journey starts here: http://lnkd.in/gAzu3W

A special thank you to Gary Kayye, founder of rAVe Pubs, for publishing our first article. You wouldn’t be reading this were it not for Gary. We’re incredibly fortunate for the men in our industry who encourage and support our efforts.

Jennifer H. Willard, CTS is a supervising AV/Video systems technical analyst for the California Administrative Office of the Courts. Recognized as InfoComm’s Young AV Professional of the Year, she seeks to assist the courts in delivering access to justice by utilizing audiovisual technology solutions.


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