Most of you know Margot Douaihy—and if you don't, you're missing out. Today is, unfortunately, her last day as Content Director of AVTechnology Magazine. I can't be too sad about it because she's staying on as Editor-at-Large, and is pursuing her dreams of being an independent storyteller.
Margot has come to be more than a co-worker to me: she's a friend, work wife, and mentor. Basically, when I grow up, I want to be her. So, on her last day as a full-time Future plc employee, here is a tribute to Miss Margot Douaihy and her many amazing qualities.
Passion Margot is one of the most passionate people I know. And she's not passionate about just one thing—she puts her heart and soul into every single thing she does. It's evident in her work. She can talk for hours about AV-over-IP, blockchain and bitcoins...all the things most people would find mundane. Not only does Margot make herself an expert, she is genuinely interested in all of those subjects. Her passion is evident in her writing. Want to see for yourself? Click here to read articles she's authored for AVTechnology Magazine.
Kindness You will not find a kinder soul than Margot's. She is genuinely interested in helping people. When I first started at Systems Contractor News, I called Margot nearly every hour on the hour with a question. She never made me feel stupid (and, trust me, some of my questions were stupid); she patiently took the time to answer each and every question I had. She's the best friend you'll ever have—one of the few people I know I can call any day, any time when I am in need of an ear to bend.
Mentor Margot is a mentor to many. She never fails to pass along her wisdom. She doesn't hold her lessons learn close to her chest; she shares them with the world so others can learn from her experiences. Margot has shown me what it truly means to be a journalist, and how to be vulnerable, honest, and inclusive. She's helped me handle the tough stories and showed me how to report the truth in difficult situations. And I know for a fact that she's helped others because she just won the 2018 Mattera Mentorship Award; this award honors "leaders who excel in mentoring and helping to shape the careers of less experienced colleagues."
Educator Educator and mentor go hand-in-hand. You can't be one without the other, and Margot is the epitome of both. Fun fact: Margot serves as a Lecturer and Advisor at Franklin Piece University in Rindge, NH. With her new found free time, I have no doubt we will see Margot teaching many AV classes at shows like InfoComm and Integrated Systems Europe (ISE). She will definitely be dropping all kinds of knowledge bombs at the SCN Think Tank and AV/IT Summit in San Jose on April 19th. And, yes, that is a semi-shameless plug.
#RESIST No matter what side of the political fence you fall on, you have to appreciate someone who fights for what they believe in...and actively works toward making the world a better place. Combine Margot's sense of social justice with her innate passion, and, as The Killers would say, "She's got soul but she's not a soldier."
So, cheers to you, Margot. Looking forward to watching where you go with life's next adventure!
International Women's Day is held annually on March 8th; the holiday was created to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
This year's theme is #PressforProgress and the focus is on gender parity. Would you believe it if I told that you gender parity isn't predicted to occur for over 200 years. Yes, you read that right—over 200 years.
I hope we can drop that number even lower; I might not see equality in my lifetime, but I can catapult it further for future generations. So today, let's start making a change together.
Click here to check out a list of female-centric events designed to further equality.
Click here to read more about gender parity.
Click here to read more about leaders creating inclusive workplaces.
Click here to learn how purposeful collaboration encourages gender parity.
Here it is a month later and I'm STILL thinking about CES. I'm so disappointed and disillusioned with the show. Let's start with something that sparked the conversation: all six CES keynotes were male; five of those males were white. If that's not a slap in the face of diversity, I don't know what is.
I wanted to start this blog with facts and the number of women in tech. But it was SO hard to find any current information, which was scary to me. I'd love to think it's because there's a 50/50 split and it's not an issue...but we all know that's not the case. The closest thing I could find was from a 2016 Girls Who Code report: 26 percent of computing jobs are held by women. For the sake of this conversation, let's assume 26 is also the "magic" number for women in tech.
So if the tech population is 26 percent female, why couldn't CES find ONE female speaker? Just ONE—that would be proportional to the percentage of women in tech. When asked about it, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), who runs CES, had a lackluster and disappointing response: ""This is a global issue—not just within the technology sector—all industries and our society at large can and must do better."
If you ask me, this is a sorry excuse for a huge miss. The way we do better is by actively recruiting and inviting qualified minorities to speak. Believe me, it is not impossible to find a C-Level female executive willing to speak at the largest consumer technology show on the planet. In fact, it's not even hard. Kristin Lemkau, chief marketing officer of JPMorgan Chase, who has spoken at CES herself, drew up her own list of 21 women headliners "in less time than it took to drink coffee."
We can say to ourselves, it's all about recruiting females and minorities to STEM as much as we want. This is only a small part of the solution; most of the time, it's just the default CYA excuse when we're not actively working to recruit diverse populations. To serve the community, we need to work harder to seek out minority groups, whether they're females, people of color, transsexual, disabled, etc.
My friend Alexis LaBrois has a great quote that I steal often "If you can see me, you can be me." When we feature diversity in positions of note, it attracts minorities.
CES has been "apologizing" and making excuses for years with no real movement to becoming a more inclusive environment, especially when it comes to gender.
Want to actually do better? Ban the booth babes. Once again, the CTA has a weak answer to this. The association said each exhibitor "should choose how they want to represent themselves." I'd love to just skip the booths who choose to have scantily-clad females, but it can't be avoided. CES is a professional trade event, not a car show, so why are we putting up with this? It's clear that exhibitors will not stop using booth babes until a professional dress code policy is put in place. Should those exhibitors be held accountable? Yes. But should CES just take the step to stop it? Also yes.
InfoComm, for example, put a professional dress code policy in place, a measure that was actually voted in by its Exhibitor Committee. Why does this matter? Why do I care so much about this? Because when hired females are wearing minimal clothing on the show floor, it sets a precedent that women in booths are just hired talent there to look good. Don't believe me? Ask pretty much any female exhibitor and she'll likely share a story about how she was summarily dismissed because she was attractive and visitors believed her to be just eye-candy.
I feel like I need to sum this up with saying I don't want females and other underrepresented populations in speaking slots just to be .the token minority. I see this a lot on social media—a woman shouldn't be a keynote speaker just to have a female keynote speaker. No, they shouldn't. But we need to represent all minorities, even if that means we have to change our policies and spend an extra few minutes finding someone to fit the bill.
Why do some women criticize and block other women at every turn?
We'll start with a quick story that inspired this blog...I was recently named Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch (YEAH, GO ME!), an honor that both thrilled and excited me. My euphoria was almost immediately crashed when I heard through the grapevine, from multiple sources, that another woman was bashing me to industry associates saying "Megan's part of a group of girls that all just nominate each other for awards and that's how they win awards."
My immediate reaction was not one of anger, but one of sorrow. I'm sorry that this woman doesn't have any awesome group of women supporting her and building her up.
Do I have an awesome lady gang in the AV industry? ABSOLUTELY.
Do I nominate other women for industry awards? HECK YES. But do you know why I do it? Not because they're woman or they're my friends—I do it because they deserve it. And *spoileralert* if they weren't worthy, they wouldn't be winning.
I've been in this industry for almost a dozen years, and I've met a plethora of women willing to help build me up in all ways. They've been there to strategize on the latest marketing techniques, work together on making our industry associations stronger, talk me through countless career hurdles, and even to share personal stories of heartbreak and triumph outside the office.
Now that I'm a little older, and a little wiser, I've had the privilege of being a mentor to younger women just beginning their AV careers. Getting a little corny, if they can believe it, they can achieve it, and I'm there to help them achieve it, not to take credit for them, or tear them down.
I guess what I'm saying is this: there's room for all of us at the top; let's build each other up instead of tearing each other down. We're in a male-dominated industry—we don't need discord and separations, we need to band together.
Next time you're angry about the accomplishments of another woman, turn that frown upside down, and be genuinely happy for them. Give her a call, text, e-mail, and tell her how amazing she is. Share her wins on your social. After all, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
P.S. If you haven't cultivated your own awesome girl gang, join one of the many industry groups that have formed. You'll meet some cool people who are happy to have you in their circle.
AVIXA Women's Council
Women in Consumer Technology
Women of Digital Signage
Women of the Channel
P.P.S. Men are always welcome to join and support these groups!
I recently read an article in The New York Times where Quentin Tarantino was quoted saying "I knew enough to do more than I did." Let me make one thing clear from the start, if you know about sexual harassment/assault, and do NOTHING, you're just as guilty as the perpetrator. It seems as if everyone in Hollywood knew about the Weinstein assaults, yet, it was just accepted - the ultimate example of rape culture.
I work in a male-dominated industry, the audiovisual industry. For the most part, I have been well accepted and treated as a professional. However, like many females, I have experienced sexual harassment. For the first time, I'm going to publicly detail a major incident. I won't name names to protect the guilty.
For about seven years, I worked for a man who sexually harassed a large number of our company's female employees; he was also verbally abusive, but that part wasn't exclusive to women. The first incident I can remember happened about a year after I started at the company. He called six or seven women into a meeting and then proceeded to scream at us - not just yelling, I'm talking vein-popping, tomato red face screaming - followed quickly by the throw of a chair across the room. After this, one of the women went to HR and he was forced to send all of us a formal apology and review sexual harassment guidelines.
Over the next few years, I wanted so desperately to be part of the "boys club" and didn't want to be "that girl" who gets offended over every little thing. So I listened to him go on, sometimes for hours, about his sex life with his wife, his drug-fueled escapades in college, and all kinds of other insane stories that should never be told in the workplace. During this time, I would be randomly yelled at for things that, most of the time, had nothing to do with me. I had been called into HR a few times during this period to confirm incidents I had witnessed between him and other women.
One afternoon, I was told, several times, I was "FUCKING WRONG" about a product spec. (I wasn't actually wrong and I didn't work on the products team so it didn't even apply to me). This incident was so loud that several people went to HR to let them know what happened. Once again, I found myself in HR's office. I had become so conditioned to comply with his behavior that the only thing I would say about it was "we've always had a good working relationship."
At this time, I had started managing several young women. I began to see the impact his behavior was having on them and I didn't like it. One woman told me he had recorded a test video of her and implied he would save it and masturbate to it later at home. This was not okay but we still just accepted it as something we had to deal with. After all, this man had been reported countless times and was never fired.
Then, one day, a drastic incident occurred. I was at a co-worker's desk when I asked her to cut the hanger strap from my shirt. Our boss walked by and said "Oh, look at that purple polka dot bra!" when he caught a glimpse of the bra strap as she cut the hanger strap. We laughed and moved on with our work. Later that day, I was in his office with a male co-worker. Mid-sentence, mid-meeting, he stopped, looked me dead in the eye and said "Are you wear matching panties?" You could have cut the awkward silence with a knife.. I just got out of there are fast as I could and hoped he'd forget about it, deep down knowing this was going to be a long-term topic of conversation for him.
Over the next two weeks, there were multiple references to this incident with him inquiring about my bra. Then it stopped and I thought it was over. Two weeks later, he was at it again. I was humiliated. I started spending 20 extra minutes each morning getting dressed, ensuring there was no way to even catch a glimpse of my undergarments. I began having anxiety attacks driving to the office and couldn't wait to get out of there every day.
I realized I couldn't go on like this and spoke to a trusted male co-worker and friend. He was shocked this was going on, especially since I was known around the office for sticking up for my values, opinions, and beliefs. He encouraged me to take it higher, but, I was terrified. I imagined my boss would get another "slap on the wrist" and I would have to work with him after. I contemplated quitting without even having another job lined up. Luckily, my friend helped me through it and convinced me to speak with the Executive Team.
I first spoke to a Vice President with whom I felt very comfortable and had a congenial relationship. Despite our friendship, it was nearly impossible to get the words out. He immediately went to the President of the company, who was kind as can be as I repeated my story, which I also had to tell HR. I was MORTIFIED having to talk about my undergarments at work, and especially to so many high-level executives. The entire process was humiliating for me., despite all of them being so incredibly understanding as I detailed what had happened.
Luckily for me, the company took swift action this time and he was terminated as soon as he walked into the building the next day. I was later told more details about the process, like how a male co-worker had said he couldn't recall witnessing some of the exchanges because he "didn't want to get involved" or when my harasser said I "showed him my bra," or why HR couldn't understand why I didn't come to them sooner...uhhhhh...because he's never been fired for sexual harassment or verbal abuse and I thought I'd still have to work for him?
While going to work didn't get immediately easier, it got better every day. This situation had a lasting impact on me (and my female co-workers) - I would break into a sweat if I saw the make and model of his car anywhere near me. I saw him once at a tradeshow and immediately hid away in our storage closet so I could ensure he did not approach me.
After all these years, writing this still gives me an "icky" feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was repeatedly told not to discuss it (despite no legal action being taken on my end of theirs), I was repeatedly asked by co-workers why I didn't tell them sooner, and I was told I was being too dramatic about the entire situation. SO many people in the company knew he continuously harassing women, yet, we all accepted it as part of our workplace culture. I'm including myself in that list - I wasn't part of the solution early on, which means I was part of the problem.
Never again will I be silent when I see things like this happening. We need to take action to stop rape culture. None of this is okay. We need to stop the "pussy-grabbers" of the world and let them know we will no longer stand for inappropriate touching, verbal abuse, harassment, etc. It stops now.
Learn about the start of the Me, Too movement here: www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/10/19/the-woman-behind-me-too-knew-the-power-of-the-phrase-when-she-created-it-10-years-ago/
I first became aware of Shelley Zalis from The Female Quotient at CES 2017. Shelley was given an achievement award from Women in Consumer Technology; when I heard her speak, I knew she was someone I wanted to emulate. Shelley has created an organization empowering women and hands out free advice like candy. I love, love, love it!
The Female Quotient (previously The Girls' Lounge) serves as a voice and destination for addressing equality in the workplace. It's a place where women can come together, have their voices heard, network, give/get advice and so much more. As Shelley told us at CES (I'm paraphrasing here), there's power in numbers and when we come together as a group, we won't be invisible.
So that's the quick background...but the real purpose of today's blog is to discuss their Modern Guide to Equality. This comprehensive document covers various aspects of equality in the workplace: return on equality, diversity, generational issues and more. This issue specifically covers leadership and how it can make the world a better place.
Ready to learn more?
Click the picture or visit
Every year, I look forward to the Women of InfoComm Networking Breakfast. This event gives me a chance to catch up with some of my favorite people in the industry. While I was thrilled to see all these women (and a growing number of men!) in one room, I, sadly, heard several stories of sexism at the show.
I'm not going to repeat these stories as they're not mine to tell. However, I will share with you a personal incident that happened to me at InfoComm 2017. I was working the reception counter at my booth when a man, we'll call him Jake*, came up looking for one of our product managers. I told Jake the team had already departed the show and I would gladly take his card back to them. He asked if there was anyone else he could speak to on this matter. I again repeated that the team had left but I could take the information back to the office for them.
Jake then told me he was going to call Dave* because he was sure Dave, who was not on-site nor involved in tradeshow planning, could direct him to the right person. I again ensured him I knew Dave and there was nobody on-site to speak with. Nevertheless, he made the call. When he couldn't get a hold of Dave, he walked around the booth to find a male booth staffer to ask the same question. That staffer gave him the same response and Jake then left.
Luckily for me, my team all recognized this incident as Jake not wanting to listen to a woman. They were very supportive and all agreed it was inappropriate.
So why am I telling you this story? Because it is not the first, second or even third time I have experienced this at a show. Certain men just do not want to believe I am an authority figure, insisting they speak to a man who must know more. And I'm not the only one. This happens over and over and over again and it needs to stop.
After repeating this story to an executive, he told me "This is 2017 and it makes me sick that we need a woman's group in this day and age." This is the attitude we need to have. We shouldn't have to host special interest groups for women because women should be accepted in this industry as the authority figures they are.
So what can we do to change it?
Keep up with the groups - there's power in numbers and our numbers are growing.
If you see something, say something. Don't let anyone get away with degrading women or treating them as less-than. Speak up and let people know it's not okay.
If you're a woman, keep being the AV Rock Star you are. Get those certifications, win those awards, teach those classes!
If you're a man, join Women of InfoComm and similar groups. We appreciate you showing up and supporting us!
Have you experienced something similar? Leave it in the blog comments.
*I've changed the names in this story .
Did you know today is International Mentoring Day? Well, I just found out about it, too, so don't feel so bad.
When I started to think about the subject of mentoring, the first thing that came to mind was a phrase from Sheryl Sandberg in her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. The phrase is "Are you my mentor?" It equates a young woman's search to finding a mentor to the much-loved children's book Are You My Mother? where a young bird searches for its mother asking anything and everything that same question.
So often those of us in our career make the mistake of endlessly searching for a mentor. Thinking you will find the perfect mentor who will let you hitch their star to yours and take you to the corner office is not the answer. You're allowing yourself to believe your entire career can be based off the success of someone else's. You don't need to (and shouldn't) depend on others for your success. As Sandberg said, "I believe we have sent the wrong message to young women. We need to stop telling them, 'Get a mentor and you will excel.' Instead, we need to tell them, 'Excel and you will get a mentor.
I've had many great mentors throughout my life and my career. Some have come into my life for a small amount of time while others have seen me through it all. While very important to me, none of these have been a formal mentorship. We don't have scheduled meetings and, frankly, the word mentor has never been uttered. I've always had an unspoken knowledge that these people were there to guide me through it all. They were ready and willing to let me pick their brains. It was a mutual relationship. I was able to look up to someone who had "been there, done that," while they were able to gain a new perspective and introduced to new ways of looking at the world.
Thinking back, one of my first mentors was Hope Atuel, my manager at my first "real" job. She taught me the importance of doing what you say you will and when you say you will. I'll never forget what she said to me on my first day "I believe when you stop learning, you start dying." From that moment on, I knew she was someone I would want to emulate in my career. She was passionate, making ranks in the boys' clubs and she knew her stuff. I worked for Hope for about a year, a relatively short amount of time, but she taught me so much. In case I've never said it, thank you, Hope.
Another one of my mentors is Nick Belcore. Nick and I have worked together for over 10 years and I began officially reporting to him about a year ago. Again, I never formally asked Nick to become my mentor but he is and he knows it. Nick came from a very different industry so his perspective on conducting business is quite different than mine. He is very formal, wearing suits every day; the audio-visual industry is the complete opposite but his systematic way of doing business has taught me invaluable lessons. His door is always open to me, whether it's personal of business advice. He's spent countless hours answering questions, weighing in on issues and giving me general guidance. For that , I am thankful.
The list of people (to whom I am immensely thankful) who have provided guidance in my career is long. I am grateful that I am now able to mentor younger women in our industry and I hope they are finding our relationship as fulfilling as I am.
P.S. Check out the Women in Consumer Technology's Connect Circle. This formal program is FREE to join and is made up of small groups of women looking to connect, learn and grow together.
Did you ever find a quote that sticks with you and you can’t stop thinking about it?
“Some days I am more wolf than woman and I am still learning how to stop apologising for my wild.”
- Nikita Gill
As I ponder the quote, more so I ponder why it speaks to me so loudly. One of my career struggles has been balancing finding my voice with managing others’ opinions of an out-spoken woman. I can imagine many others have struggled with this exact issue.
When I started my career in the AV industry, I was in my early 20’s. It quickly became obvious that this was a male-dominated industry with ceilings for women to shatter. Not to say I was not welcomed – quite the opposite, in fact, but, as with most industries, there is a struggle being the minority. Being in this environment was somewhat intimidating to me; I struggled to find a voice. In fact, I came very close to leaving when my boss told me I was being too meek and it was time for me to take charge. Instead of letting this get me down, I took the statement as a challenge and rose to the occasion. It was as if he had given me permission to take my place in the industry and I was ready for it.
Speaking up, ensuring things were getting done at the office, made my life easier. Suddenly tradeshows were running smoother and people were paying attention when I spoke up. Not a shock to anyone but me. You have to give yourself permission to take charge – I didn’t give myself that until someone told me I could. Whatever it took, it made a big change in my life.
After some smooth sailing years, I was told I needed to “ask” people to do tasks instead of telling them. It was a shot to my heart; for those who know me, I am always polite – please and thank you accompany all requests. So why did these comments bother me so much? Because I am very sure this same criticism would not have been said to a man. Why did I need to ask people instead of direct them?
That is the first time it occurred to me that a strong woman can be viewed as a threat. Here I was, working hard, ensuring projects were completed but I was being chastised for not saying “will you please do xxx” instead of “please do xxx”. I thought about this a lot – not only because it went on my official review but because I concluded this criticism did not have merit. I was doing my job and doing it well. It was not the time for me to regress and ask permission to get my job done; that’s not an efficient way for anyone to work. I had taken a long time to find my voice and I’m not going to let it go.
So, no, I am not going to apologize for my wild. I’m going to embrace it. I hope you’ll join me.
Megan A. Dutta