Widgets Magazine

Things NOT to Say

True Tales from Women in AV

During a recent call with a manufacturer’s representative, he casually said, “My experience with women-owned businesses is that they’re box pushers.” This flippant comment was at the end of a call scheduled by us, as we wanted to purchase more from the company. He was referring that we the company is not designing, but just selling boxes to clients.

I was furious. After 20 years in the industry and seven years after owning the company, a man could still question my validity. These comments are like paper cuts. Each one is annoying but survivable. And, I admit, I usually do not speak up. The guy who said this might be a great guy. Maybe he volunteers at homeless shelters over the weekend. I am willing to bet he was not trying to belittle; perhaps this has been his experience with women-owned businesses, but had he done any homework on the company or me, he would not have made the mistake.

The experience and support I received from my fellow females got me thinking about all the ‘paper cuts’ we ladies in AV have endured. So, I asked a few friends to tell me their stories of what not to say. All names have been removed, as we bring this to your attention because maybe you have made one of these comments, not realizing its harm. We ask you please read, share, and perhaps we can evoke some change.

“When in Vegas to receive a Woman in CT award, I saw a veteran of the industry who asked why I was there. After I told him, he said, ‘Oh, one of those girly awards.'”

“Stop walking into a trade show booth and asking the female if you can talk to someone that knows the products.”

“Do you know what you’re doing?’

“Are the guys coming too?”

“Is this going to blow up since you worked on it?”

“I’ll just wait to talk to him!’ (Points to my male employee with less than six months on the job) ‘I’m sure you’re good with the colors, but I need technical help.”

“‘Are you a lesbian?”

“Hand me the dykes!”

“What are you trying to prove?”

“Come on; you don’t really own the company. What does your husband do?”

“Nice Rack!”

“You seem to be having an emotional reaction.”

“After my first day on an all-male board, the chair turned to me to inform me the board did have diversity, for he was gay.”

“Any comments about male/female connectors in only funny to Beevis and Butthead”

“No need for terms of endearment such as sweetie, hon, or cutie. I don’t call my male colleague’s hon or sweetie.”

“There is never a reason for a male to say the words, ‘time of the month’ EVER.”

“You do that so well for a girl.”

“I have to admit, if you were a man, I would have signed the agreement by now. After a sleepless night, we returned his deposit, and it was one of the best business decisions I’ve made.”

“The trade show guys that speak to my husband who is with me and not even in the business even after he points out that he’s the arm candy.”

“Trade show: can you scan my badge? I have many questions, but I do not see anyone available.”

“The times I inform the client I’ll be out there for an estimate, and they say you?”

“From most people hearing me speak or meeting me for the first time without knowing I’m female, “Oh – I expected a man!”

“When a client needed help with getting his DVD player to work. When girl-on-girl porn popped up, he invited me to sit down and watch.”

“Don’t be a bitch, or any reference to the word bitch. There are women just as guilty of this one.”

“What almost every woman, everywhere hears… “What she’s trying to say, is…”…

“Oh, she’s just a (salesperson/rep/office admin/marketing person/etc.__, she doesn’t REALLY work in tech!”

“Can I talk to tech support? Me: I am tech support. Male on the phone: Can I talk to someone technical? Me: I am an engineer with twenty plus years of experience, does that help?”

“You’re so surprisingly technical! Dude, I am in technical sales. It would be surprising if I weren’t technical.”

“Early in my career, I was talking to a guy at my work about ways I could advance and move my career forward, and he said, ‘I don’t know why you’d want to do more; I mean, you make enough money to order yourself a pizza every once in a while, isn’t that enough?'”

Most people are good people, and some amazing men in our industry fight for their fellow females. Then some might not realize that times have changed. I dream of a world where we are in this together, equally.

Have a story to share? Meet us on Twitter with the hashtag #ThingsNotToSay.

About Author

Heather L. Sidorowicz owns an AV integration firm in Buffalo, NY, and has been in the industry for more 20 years. She freelances for multiple trade publications.

3 Comments

  1. Leaving the AV industry was one of the best decisions that I ever made.
    Not only because of the blatant discrimination against women, but the abusive attitude of leadership.
    The blatant discrimination against LGBTQI people.
    The undermining of LGBTQI people in multiple ways.

    For over a year I was REPEATEDLY called by the name of another trans women who worked in the same company by many of the managers and executives at that company..
    The few who realized that I was not that other woman would often ask what I thought of her.
    We were in totally different departments with absolutely different roles.
    What should I have thought?
    That was one of the MOST LGBTQI accepting companies and the ONLY employer that I ever worked for that had more than one transperson working there.
    Every other employer: I was an “only” though one client: Disney did have one other transperson in one of the facilities that I worked at.
    Meanwhile: IBEW actually appreciates people. Everyone. Men, women, LGBTQI people.
    We are valued and treated like we matter.
    I love the union.
    I never realized just how awful that the AV industry is until I see how things are elsewhere.

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