The call connects, and up pops Kari with a twenty-three-year-old smile as wide and as bright as her ambitions. Her floor to ceiling tinsel backdrop far from the brightest thing on the screen. For Ms. Kari Martinez refuses to be outshone by any situation – or anything. A little over twenty she may be, and only just starting out, but already she’s making waves in AV.
What’s most remarkable is the way she has gone about it. Having limited experience of the business – and unsure how other women managed in this male-dominated world – Kari didn’t hide behind her tinsel veil and worry; she created a lifestyle survey, took to social media and asked. And the women of AV – all ages, races, regions and religions and in audio, lighting, video, TV/film, and STEM – replied.
How much, she wanted to know, did women like her have to compromise to fit in? Was it necessary – in her words – to slide her pink/black fader down to the drab end of the scale to get work? And would she get taken seriously if she didn’t?
It may have begun as a plea for advice from older hands, but that first piece of research was academically sound. It found around 43% of her respondents do think they have to “be one of the boys” to fit in or get a job, 22% that they somewhat have to and 36% that they don’t. It seems the drab end of the scale is still the default setting.
But Kari’s survey also found the curious eyes and ears of Women in AV – and their reach, combined with Kari’s sass, meant a new and a much bigger survey. The Women and Girls in AV study dug deeper, drew hundreds of responses, and generated widespread and welcome press coverage.
As women in AV’s Jennifer Willard explains , it went on to confirm a lot of what Kari Martinez, a young woman trying to find her place in AV, had experienced. She just wanted to know if her chosen industry would welcome her – and while those of us in it knew that it would – she didn’t, and nor could she find easy evidence that it would.
That’s a worry, for it would be hard to find anyone more motivated, more talented, or more enthusiastic about this business than Kari Martinez. Audio, she says, ‘Is how I express myself.’ and she’s currently doing just that, helping run sound at a local House of Worship where her natural ambition to learn more and do more is evident.
If our industry needs talent like Kari’s it needs to nurture it too – so perhaps we’re a little too insular – yes, our ways may be welcoming, but isn’t it time they were better known?
Is it time to look beyond AV’s own tinsel veil – and set the faders to a pinker, friendlier, hue?