October 2, 2019 by Jennifer Goodyer
Nan Johnson
Nan Johnson speaks to the AVIXA Women's Council

Soon the U.S. will celebrate the centennial anniversary of the enactment and ratification of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote. One hundred years is a significant number for women’s rights activists. Women won the right to vote exactly 100 years after the birth of Susan B. Anthony.  Women’s rights groups all over the country are planning to celebrate the centennial in their own way, including the AVIXA Women’s Council. Just recently, the Los Angeles AVIXA Women’s Council local group’s inaugural event hosted Nan Johnson – a women’s rights advocate who has dedicated much of her life and career fighting for women’s equality and bringing awareness to the courageous journeys of past suffragettes.

Nan Johnson is a retired professor of political science and law, co-founder of the Friends of Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York., and the Founding Director of the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership at the University of Rochester. Nan continues to celebrate the fight for women’s equality as a founding member of Pasadena Celebrates 2020. Their organization will be celebrating with a float at the Rose Parade on January 1, 2020 themed “Years of Hope: Years of Courage” which will commemorate the 100 years since women won the vote.

As keynote speaker, Nan Johnson addressed the group of men and women gathered for the AVIXA Women’s Council event on the importance supporting the recognition of this monumental anniversary to honor those who fought for women’s equality.

Nan read a personal favorite quote from one of the great heroines of the women’s suffrage movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Thus far women have been the mere echoes of men. Our laws and constitutions, our creeds and codes, and the customs of social life are all of masculine origin. The true woman is as yet a dream of the future.” With sincerity, Nan told the Los Angeles group, “You all are that future, you are all fulfilling that dream for my generation.”

In her speech, Nan reflected on the thousands of men and women that came together across the country to fight for a common goal; equality. She explained the importance of women’s groups, and why we must always continue to gather as she believes “women cannot be divided.” We owe it to the suffragettes before us that fought for our civil rights to continue to gather and organize in the pursuit for equal opportunity.  

Our industry benefits from women’s groups, as we are still facing low percentages of female representation in AV. The larger tech industry has seen a decrease in the numbers of women joining the ranks and the gender gap has been widening. However, it’s not just our industry that struggles with gender equality. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that even though women make up 52 percent of the US workforce, they only make up 20 percent of board seats and 6 percent of CEOs. Just as diversity is integral to run a truly successful country, it’s also proven to create higher profitability and success in the business sector. According to the Peterson Institute for Economics, by 2017 companies with more gender diverse executive teams were 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability over companies with less diversity. One of the turning points for the women’s suffrage movement was when the argument changed from women deserve the right to vote because they are equal to men, to women deserve the right to vote because they are different than men. Diverse perspectives and voices bring different viewpoints to any institution, which is beneficial for everyone.

It’s no coincidence that the AVIXA Women’s Council is the fastest growing AVIXA Council, with more than 40 local groups and 500 members worldwide. The need for women’s organizations in AV is extremely prevalent, with sub-committees and local events on the rise to tackle issues of women’s equality in the workplace, as well as figuring out how to get more girls interested in AV. Historians believe one of the causes for the success of the women’s suffrage movement could be how experienced and politically sophisticated many of the suffragettes became after decades of fighting for equality. Younger generations of suffragettes looked to experienced suffragettes for guidance as they worked together to finally gain victory. This is exactly why programs like AVIXA’s mentor program are so important. Girls entering the AV field need representation and guidance on how to navigate this industry from experienced AV and technology veterans.

AVIXA Women’s Council Chair, Brandy Alvarado, believes that "much like the fight for the right to vote, the women's council has been fighting for the women in our industry to have an equal voice and place at the table.”  With that said, let us prepare to celebrate how far women have come, but also continue the fight for equality and diversity within our industry.

To get involved and more info on Women’s Council, contact Brittany DiCesare at AVIXA bdicesare@avixa.org.

To learn more about Pasadena Celebrates 2020, please visit https://pasadenacelebrates2020.org/

About Jennifer Goodyer

Jennifer Goodyer is a sales manager at RT Sales and recent founder of the South Florida AVIXA Women’s Council group.  Jennifer earned her CTS in 2015 and is currently working towards her CTS-D with AVIXA. You can follow Jennifer on Linkedin