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Ed Note: Introducing the ‘CE Pro Female 40’ Honors

It’s been a running narrative over the years that the custom integration channel consists mainly of “old, white guys” who have been doing this for years. But if you’ve attended a CEDIA Expo, buying group conference, or Total Tech Summit in recent times, you know that stereotype can be easily debunked.

My perception is that the industry is getting younger and more influenced by women’s participation in all facets.

For starters, three of the five members comprising the CEDIA Executive Committee are female owners/founders of integration firms: Amanda Wildman, Jen Mallett, and Jamie Briesemeister. Another, Melanie Malcolm, resides on the Board of Directors.

The cover profile in CE Pro has featured several companies run by husband-and-wife partnerships in the past several years, including last month’s feature on Neal and Dawn Check of SoundCheck in Michigan. Our Total Tech Summit Advisory Board includes Michelle Furlauto, who is chief operating officer at SoundVision in North Carolina and also a frequent contributor to the monthly CE Pro VIPeer2Peer calls.

Additionally, the buying groups have numerous women whose presence has been essential to their marketing and communications teams. Myriad manufacturers have women in high-profile roles, people such as CE Pro Masters honoree Melissa Andresko, who is the brand ambassador and long-time employee of Lutron.

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Moreover, our magazine wouldn’t really be feasible to fill content if not for the efforts of the predominantly female public relations sector who generate and disseminate news items, send article ideas and client contributions, set up exhibitor meetings at tradeshows, and much more. 

The biggies that have been mainstays are either female owned or largely composed of female employees: these include Caster Communications, KMB Communications, InGear, Marketing Matters, Griffin360, and CATalyzing Communications. Nine of Caster’s 10 team members are women. Besides those firms, it’s safe to say the majority of PR emails I receive come from females.

Not to mention that Emerald has many women involved with managing front-facing and behind-the-scenes operations and sales for CEDIA Expo, Total Tech Summit, and CE Pro.

Is there more to do for female presence in the industry to grow even more? Of course; it can be represented much more, that’s no secret.

While this Editor’s Note is being published in our May issue, it’s being written in March, which is Women’s History Month. With the spirit of that in mind, CE Pro would like to further celebrate women in the custom integration industry, by announcing the introduction of the “CE Pro Female 40” program. 

The hope is that the Female 40 will serve as an annual initiative to help to highlight the women in the industry who might not be in the headlines (though many aforementioned names naturally will be) but contribute valuable roles and skills to integration companies, manufacturers, distributors, buying groups, manufacturer’s reps, PR firm, associations, home theater design firms, and more.

Consider it our own spin, one that we think is long overdue considering the increasing importance of women beyond the old, insulting “booth babes” stereotype. Thankfully we’ve moved way past that stain on the electronics tradeshows.

We’d like to solicit your assistance, whether you are male or female. In looking to launch the Female 40 this in a fall issue, likely our September CEDIA Expo 2024 issue, we’re asking folks to send us candidates for consideration. Tell us who you are suggesting and a bit about their role and reason for nomination.

Email myself and CE Pro Senior Editor Bob Archer (Robert.Archer@emeraldx.com). We can’t wait to hear from you!

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