With the gender pay gap being addressed by government regulations, the way is being paved for growing gender equality. However, in technology, for one, there is still an imbalance – for a variety of reasons, including lacking encouragement of girls to pursue STEM subjects, the sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges of being given opportunities and recognised in a male dominated environment.
At iWireless Solutions, we pride ourselves in equality and a fair and unbiased approach to nurturing talent. So, we decided to take a look at our own workforce and investigate further. Our findings have renewed our commitment to do our part in raising awareness of the challenges women can face in the telecoms industry, as well as investigating how we can contribute to change. Looking merely at the numbers, we started off with encouraging findings:
- 1/3 of our staff are women.
- 5 out of 7 board members are women.
- 7 of our 15 Senior Managers/Specialists are women.
- Only 2 of our engineers are female.
Whilst I believe we can be proud that equality is firmly in place in our board room, it seems that the more technical the roles become, the more male dominated the industry appears to be. The stories from our staff are testimony to that. We have posed 3 key questions to some of our female staff, and we are sharing some of their feedback below:
What is your experience of Women in Telecoms?
I tend not to liaise with many women in the industry, it sounds awful, but mostly I find women in the admin or supporting roles.
There are more women involved in the network side, than the site provider side of things. i.e. Senior Delivery/Regional Managers.
During the Olympic project, there were a few more women in the industry but more on the administration side of the business rather than the technical side.
Since 2012 I’ve seen an increase in women in technical roles, within our own company, but still a limited presence of women on the ground level. There has been a slight increase in the number of women working for Telecoms companies but still in administration or senior managerial level rather than technical.
How was your experience of studying engineering?
Being a woman in the telecoms field is not an easy task. At the very beginning when I started studying telecommunications engineering, I noticed that there were a lot of classmates more skilful than myself so I realised that I had to study harder to be the best among them. The majority of my classmates were men, and I continuously had to prove myself, which made me work even harder. My marks and the constant and important inputs in different subjects helped me to gain the respect of my classmates and teachers.
Do you think iWireless’ ratio on men/women in either leading or engineering/technical roles is good? How do you think this compares to other companies across the industry?
I think we’re certainly doing better in the management roles, but are outnumbered in the technical/engineering roles. I think this is typical of telecoms and especially construction/installation work. I attended a site last week and asked where the female toilet was. The guy pointed at a woman in the office area and said “ask her, she’s the only one here to use it”. She was sat amongst 8 men in the office full of PM’s, site managers, H&S team etc.
The iWireless ratio for men/women has increased over the past few years. Women dominate the Board, which I think is great progress. There is still room for improvement to increase the presence of women within technical roles, but I think that the engineering industry is still a male dominated career choice therefore limited female applicants. However internal training does offer opportunities to women who show an interest in the industry but this would depend on the individuals’ interest and aspirations for a technical career.
Anything else you would like to add?
I’ve noticed that when I started out in the industry, some colleagues expect me to fail or not being able to successfully complete my tasks. Over the years, I have learned not to pay attention and carry on with my work, taking advantage of every opportunity I am given in the same way that other noticeable female engineers have done it in the field of engineering through history.
iWireless Solutions feels passionate about equality and would love to see more women in the industry. To help make this a reality we are currently exploring an initiative within a local secondary school to inform pupils of their career opportunities ahead of deciding their electives. We hope that hearing from successful women in a seemingly male industry encourages female students to consider STEM subjects.