Although she was aware the award existed and knew other women who had been recognized in the past, Wendy Cox, CTS® had no clue that one of her colleagues had nominated her for the 2015 Women in AV award.

"One of the things that made winning the award so special was that a lot of people I've known for a long time but rarely get the chance to see made a point of contacting me and coming to see me at InfoComm 2015," says Cox, who has spent her entire 21-year career at Da-Lite/Milestone AV Technologies, working her way up from the customer service department to her current role as Director of Product Development.

Cox feels fortunate to work for a forward-thinking and extraordinarily female-friendly company — Da-Lite was founded by Adele De Berri, the female inventor of the silver screen. She also recognizes the value of awards such as these, especially for women at earlier stages in their careers.

"Today, in most industries, the number of women in leadership has grown, but we need to continue encouraging young women who are getting started in their careers, especially in a smaller industry like ours. Seeing other women being recognized in our industry may cause them to consider a career in AV, which may not have occurred to them otherwise," she says.

For her, growing up in Warsaw, Indiana provided limited choices when it came to choosing a career. It was either work in the orthopedic industry or at Da-Lite. Although she was initially unaware that the company was founded by a woman, she quickly learned that it was a point of pride for the company and its employees.

"They were proud of the fact that they had been around for 80 years, were based in the Midwest with manufacturing and R&D in the U.S., and founded by a woman," says Cox. "I do feel like there’s a female-friendly heritage. My boss for the first 17 years at Da-Lite was female and she was a very strong personality and a strong proponent of women in leadership roles. It was definitely one of the things that helped me grow, gave me confidence, and reassured me that there were opportunities for advancement."

Now Cox is in a position to mentor, and she says that winning the Women in AV award has made her even more conscientious in that regard. She has taught several AVIXA classes on projection and has been a part of AVIXA’s Exhibitor Committee, but recently became involved with the AVIXA Women's Council, which allows her to share her experiences, network and encourage other women to excel in the field of AV.

"It's important to mentor young women who come into the industry so they have the guidance and leadership they need to be successful. Though it is a male-dominated industry, it’s not a difficult industry for women to participate in," she says. "It's become more of a well-known field, and encouraging diversity can only benefit us as an evolving industry."