I have spent most of my life heavily involved in what are predominantly male dominated fields. From 2D and 3D CAD design in the manufacturing industry, teaching both guitar and bass, performing, and now as a founding member of Achieve Music where I currently hold the position of Director of Customer Relations and Technical Support.
The path I took to get to where I am, was to say the least, unconventional. I have 4 years of formal music school training as well as a degree in accounting. After several years as a business manager/engineering support tech in a manufacturing field that was entirely male at the time, I was literally the only woman in the company, I decided that doing something I was good at but that didn’t bring me joy was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I started teaching guitar and bass full time for a small chain of music stores. I quickly discovered I was once again the only woman in my position. Not only was I the only female guitar teacher in my store, at the time I was the only female guitar teacher in the company.
Having combined experience in Business, IT, and Music Education made Achieve Music the perfect project for me to get involved in. Working on this project from conception to launch and beyond has been one of the most exciting points in my career so far.
On the tech side of my career, I have been fortunate to have always been afforded opportunities based solely on my ability and skill without regard for my gender. I feel like it’s a sad statement that it is not the case for everyone. That many women give up on their aspirations simply because they don’t fall in line with other’s assumptions or expectations of them. There have been a few times throughout the years where I have heard the surprise in another’s voice when they realize that I am the one leading the tech meeting or the training session. Those moments have never unnerved me but rather they inspire me to bring my “A” game to everything I do, to ensure that it is clear that I am where I am because I am good at what I do. I am driven to constantly improve, not only in my career, but as a person as well. I think knowing that there are stereotypes around women in the music tech industry has only pushed me to defy them.
I started playing guitar when I was 12 years old, when my friends were auditioning for the female lead in our school productions, I was auditioning for the pit band. There have been many times I have run into stereotypical thinking as a musician. It seems that people like to make assumptions. People see me setting up with a band and assume I must be the singer. Without fail people will come up to talk to me during a break and someone will say, “Wow, you can actually play that thing”. The tone of the comment makes it clear that they were not expecting it. There is something rewarding in knowing that maybe you’ve changed someone’s view just by being your best self.
I have always tried to not let other’s expectations define me. I do what I do because it is what I love and really, what could be better than getting to do what you love for a living every day? If I had allowed myself to be intimidated by statistics or by the fact that the things that I have the most passion for, that inspire me and make me want to strive for more – are typically considered to be male roles, I would have missed out on so many amazing moments.