There are opportunities for anyone, and if you fit the role, no matter your gender, then you’ll be able to fit right in.
From studying contemporary dance at the University of Roehampton to becoming a Lighting Technician at Encore, Molly talks about what inspired her to switch gears and trade the spotlight for working behind the scenes in the events industry. Interested in how she feels as a woman in a traditionally male–dominated environment, we asked her what challenges she has faced and what she’s done to overcome these. Molly openly talks about her personal experiences and provides helpful overall advice for women in the audio visual industry and for anyone who would like to follow into her footsteps.
What inspired your career choice and what exactly excites you about working as a Lighting Technician?
“I was inspired after taking a module on lighting production at university. It was very different to what my degree, in contemporary dance, was like. There were different, more practical elements to it such as setting up lights, rigging and programming. It was the perfect mix to have both a creative outlet while also learning the theoretical knowledge behind it. This career path also inspired me because there are so many different opportunities and ways to progress within the industry. I’ve only been at Encore for three months, but every day is like a new chapter of a book, and you wonder ‘what happens next?’. Yesterday, I worked on a gig for Paloma Faith and next week I’m on my way to Portugal for a conference. Being a Lighting Technician is really exciting and I feel like I can be a part of the puzzle that puts everything together.”
Are there challenges you face as a female technician in a traditionally male-dominated environment? If so, how do you deal with them?
“I think there are always challenges in any industry that you go into as a woman, especially in a male–dominated one such as the technical event industry. One of the main challenges I think women in the audio visual industry face is people underestimating your ability. I’m still learning and progressing the fact that it is not my gender that makes me different because I’m doing the same job as everyone else in the team. You just have to do the best you can and not let your gender or other characteristics determine whether you are good at your job or not. It’s about your ability and skills. There are obviously challenges that come with that, like some people thinking you cannot do certain things, or you are not as good or strong enough as a man might be. For me, it is about overcoming that fact and showing that I’m no different to anyone else just because I am a female.”
Do you think that gender equality within the industry is changing? What are your experiences with Encore?
“I haven’t been in the industry for that long, so it’s hard to say over a long period of time but I hope it is. I think even just my joining the company, being one of the new technicians and my experiences and opportunities so far, demonstrate the diversity in our company. It’s great to see more women in the audio visual industry, out on-site and being represented. Hopefully, there will be more change coming as I think that diversity and female input in any industry is always welcome. It provides a different outlook on how things are done which is refreshing and always needed in any workplace. At Encore, I feel very accepted and there’s a massive element of friendship that I’ve found already. Everyone is so welcoming, and I quickly felt that I was part of the team.”
What do you enjoy most about working at Encore?
“Encore is a massive global company that has so much knowledge. It’s great to come in and just soak up all of that experience as someone who is just starting out. I can then take this and develop my own career journey to progress within the company. There are so many great people who are willing to help and offer support. If you’re willing to learn, then this is a perfect place to be. The working environment is fun, and everyone works very hard. I think there’s a nice balance between those two elements of enjoying what you’re doing and the people you’re working with, while getting the job done at the same time.”
What advice would you give to women if they were conscious about starting a career in a technical field?
“I’d say just go for it! If you feel like you have the skills and the drive to want to do it, then the element of being a woman shouldn’t hold you back. There are opportunities for anyone, and if you fit the role, no matter your gender, then you’ll be able to fit right in. I think it can be daunting, especially during your first weeks of going on site when you don’t know anyone. The majority are men and they’re probably looking at you thinking, ‘Oh, it’s a female’ but this has nothing to do with you, your abilities or the fact that they’re waiting for you to slip up. It’s just because you are in the minority, and you shouldn’t fear that. It’s good to show representation of women in the audio visual industry and if you want to join the industry and you’re a woman, go for it.”
If you are hoping to kickstart your career and are looking for helpful resources and support in the field of women in the audio visual industry, make sure to have a look at Women in AV. Women in AV is a networking and career development group with the goal to help, learn and assist women achieve success in the audio visual industry.
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