If you’ve been paying attention to the chatter around CEDIA this year, you already know that there has been a lot of talk about the lack of women on the CEDIA Board of Directors. Several posts on LinkedIn and on rAVE have been critical of CEDIA as an organization for not having any women on the Board. Whatever the reason is behind that, it’s definitely something that needs to be fixed, but not for diversity’s sake alone.
Women bring a unique perspective to technology and especially its practical application. Having women executives involved in the strategy being employed to market custom electronic designs and installations would greatly benefit CEDIA members, especially in the face of today’s rampant simplification and commoditization of technology.
Why do I say this? Because as a sales consultant for a prominent residential AV integration firm from 2002 to 2007 during the housing boom, I sat with over 2000 home buyers to design their home AV systems. I worked with a lot of male/female couples to talk about AV, and that was important as it gave me the opportunity to observe how both genders approached technology in the same exact space. Given those experiences, I can tell you that there are 3 major reasons CEDIA needs women on their board.
Women drive design decisions.
The first reason that CEDIA should have women on their board is that overwhelmingly in my experience, women drive design decisions in the home. In the spirit of fairness, yes many women buy homes on their own, whether single or divorced, and two women may also buy homes together as married couples. In those cases women drive ALL decisions in those homes by default.
However, most of the couples I met at the time were husband and wife, and I can say with definitive authority that it was the woman in those households that had final say on the look and feel of the home. Show me a husband trying to sneak 52″ tall dog coffins full of 8″ drivers into the living room and I’ll show you a woman with a killer Dikembe Mutombo impression… “Not in my house.”
Then go on to consider that we are in a technology world where user experience (UX) will most likely determine which technology ecosystems thrive, and this design mindedness becomes increasingly more important to have in leadership.
Having female executives on the CEDIA board who help find ways to promote not only “function and performance” but also “style and form” on the manufacturer, integrator, and software UX levels would be extremely valuable to the Association and its members.
Women love technology.
I don’t want there to be any confusion about my first point. Just because I saw many would-be technology decisions vetoed by women on the grounds of style, it wasn’t because they hated technology or AV. In fact, most of the time once women were engaged in the process, they quickly switched gears into technology buying mode.
Just because the typical female doesn’t come in talking about subwoofers and watts doesn’t mean that they’re apathetic or ignorant of what technology can do for their home and lifetsyle. Again, don’t get me wrong. I had plenty of women that WERE into the tech specs, and there are some CEDIA wonder women like Heather Sidorowicz @tech_chi that would run circles around most men with regards to that.
However, even when women are not well versed in technology specifications, they are typically very well versed on something much more important. Recognizing quality.
I can say with absolute certainty that I upgraded more audio packages in homes due to the discerning ears of females than anything else. Women were much less willing to give up large steps in quality to save a couple hundred dollars.
Women executives on the board of CEDIA could help integrators and manufacturers better tell the “quality story” that justifies hiring a CEDIA accredited firm ILO taking the Amazon and DIY route.
Women are practical.
It has been said that women make decisions based on emotion and heart while men make decisions with their head. Well whether that is true or not I don’t know, but let me tell you this. When it comes to tech, it seems that women are the more practical consumers. I met a ton of men who bought technology based on the criteria of being the biggest, best, loudest, flashiest, and often, most expensive. Technology seems to be at least one place where emotion quickly takes the lead in men.
Put a $3000 touch panel in most men’s hands and they will quickly write a check for one rather than have it wrestled from their grip. Put that same panel in the hands of most women, and you’ll get a “meh”… unless of course you demonstrate what it can do for them. In my experience, women are much more in tune with automation systems that create efficiency in their work and social routines, save them time, save them energy, and over all, decrease the actual time they have to interface with technology while still realizing all the benefits of it.
In the new world of connected devices and the IoT, having women executives on the board of CEDIA would offer more perspective on how technology increases quality of life and creates efficiency in the home, which again leads to why hiring a professional technologist can be so beneficial.
At the end of the day, not having any women on the board of a technology organization in 2017 is just plain silly. Yes, all people are different and there are not a single set of traits that define male and female relationships, personalities or roles. Gross generalizations can get you in major trouble… #GoogleMemo.
That being said, years of experience tell me that CEDIA is losing out by not having the unique perspective of female executives on the Board of Directors. I have worked for three AV companies run by women, and they all benefited from their leadership and perspectives. If we want to continue to promote the value of premium products and professional design and installation in the residential space, key women will only further that cause.