by TIP News

Celebrating Women in Engineering

Jun 24, 2020

International Women in Engineering Day 2020, which took place yesterday, was an opportunity for us to celebrate the successes of women in the telecom’s industry, particularly those within TIP’s community. It was also an important reminder to reflect on the gender imbalance which continues to exist and consider how we can work together as an industry to take action to promote opportunities for women and improve female representation. Women still face a significant challenge in entering, as well as staying in the telecom’s sector and this needs to change.

Female role models, and encouraging girls and young women to develop STEM skills and aspire to careers in technology and engineering in particular are crucial to developing the pipeline of female tech talent. This is why we took the opportunity to ask some of the leading women within TIP to share their personal experiences and views on how the industry can create better opportunities with us. This years International Women in Engineering Day’s theme was #ShapetheWorld so we also asked how they would reshape the industry if they could.

 

 

We heard from Caroline Chan, Rashmi Kizhekke Marina Traversari, and Renuka Bhalerao on why the industry needs to ‘demystify’ what it means to be an engineer and provide forums to openly discuss the challenges and foster confidence.

Caroline Chan is a TIP board member and General Manager of 5G Infrastructure Division within Intel’s Network Platform Group.

Why did you choose a career in engineering, and why would you encourage more women to consider engineering?
I was born into it – both my parents were electrical engineering professors; my mother was among the pioneers of women engineers in China. I was brought up to believe ‘girls make competent engineers’. Engineering needs more women – engineering eventually serves the world that is 50% women after all. Engineering is also an industry that affords women opportunity to have a career with rewarding return on investment.

What more can the telecom industry do to create better opportunities for women?
Demystify what it is meant to be telco engineer – it is not climbing poles, it is not all calculus, it affords work/life balance, it requires EQ as much as IQ.

How would you “Reshape” the telecoms industry if you could?
Drive software into telecoms industry through cloudification and virtualization; Telco will be more aligned with Cloud, emphasize applications and services delivered over network.

 

 

Rashmi Kizhekke is a Program Manager at Amdocs and works with the TIP PlugFest Transport and Transport Automation groups.

Why did you choose a career in engineering, and why would you encourage more women to consider engineering?
Growing up in India, the cliché was to be an Engineer or a Doctor, and I decided on Engineering as I was fascinated more with the world of machines than the human body per se. During my time telecommunication was growing and the world of internet and computers was the next big revolution and to date I do not regret the choice I made with very less knowledge in hand. The environment has dramatically changed in the last 15 years since I have been part of this industry however the rate of adoption for women engineers is still on a slow rise. Women have proven time and again how well they can balance their life and yet multi task successfully. However, there is some fear ingrained in many of us women that forces us to undermine ourselves. All we need to do is overcome those fears, talk to people openly and march straight ahead to our path of success.

What more can the telecoms industry do to create better opportunities for women?
One of the major characteristics I believe women lack is self-confidence. I think one of the biggest changes we need in our industry or in any field is a platform that is available to women to openly discuss their challenges and inhibitions. All companies need to take the initiative to provide just opportunities and provide the first layer of confidence to women. Eventually it will seem inevitable for us as woman to overcome our fear of confidence.

How would you “Reshape” the telecoms industry if you could?
Encouraging fellow colleagues and instilling strong values in my kids and the future generations to always aim higher and never give up on their dream.

Marina Traversari is Global Program Lead at Telecom Infra Project Ecosystem Acceleration Centres (TEAC).

What more can the telecom industry do to create better opportunities for women?
There’s a massive role that the telcom industry can play in showing younger girls that there is a lot of job opportunities for them and there are people that look like them too!

The BBC reported on 15/10/19 that career ambitions are already limited by the age of 7! Therefore if we are thinking about pipeline it needs to start from an early age. Telcos can get involved with a variety of organisations, such as STEMettes for example, who’s remit is encouraging more women into STEM careers to change the face of technology, and the world we experience.

Why did you choose a career in engineering, and why would you encourage more women to consider engineering?
I have to hold my hand up and say I am not an engineer, although I have held deep, technical management roles for a number of years in broadcasting, cloud computing and telecommunications. What I would say to encourage more women into technical roles is don’t be afraid to be the only women in the room, as sometimes you will be!

To change this landscape we need to ensure there are female role models for both younger women and women returners, and ensure that the language used to promote such roles is clear and has been reviewed for unconscious bias. Finding a mentor both with experience and social capital, and peer mentors are equally important. Having someone of a similar age and shared experiences who understands the pressures and can empathise and offer perspectives. Create a powerful support group, and finally – feel the fear and do it anyway as you will have a long and rewarding career!

How would you “Reshape” the telecoms industry if you could?
From a technical perspective I have seen cloud and edge computing coming into the fore over the past few years and 5G is the next generation of mobile communications technology and is expected to offer faster mobile broadband connections and the ability to connect a greater number of devices online. Our TEAC program has aligned all our centres globally this year looking for startups disrupting in this space.

Transformation of the industry however begins with diversity, women need to be involved in building mobile/telco industries, mobile tech & design – data inclusivity requires diverse minds in building the world around us. Inclusion drives innovation; women building tech will define our future – women are designing, building and deploying technology and driving positive change!

 

 

Renuka Bhalerao is part of the Connectivity Ecosystem Program at Facebook and focuses on adoption of open architecture hardware and software through TIP and the Open Compute Project (OCP).

Why did you choose a career in engineering, and why would you encourage more women to consider engineering?
Growing up, I saw my family put a lot of emphasis on higher education and technology. My dad, his brother, and my maternal uncles, all studied engineering. So when the opportunity came to join one of the very first classes of Computer Engineering, I jumped at it. I am glad to see many girls choosing this so-called ‘untraditional’ career path since then.

What more can the telecom industry do to create better opportunities for women?
Women bring a unique and valuable perspective to any profession, and engineering is no exception. Industry transformation needs many diverse ideas. It is super important to pay attention to the talents that women bring to the table in general. I would encourage all the key telecom companies to bring along the voices of women engineers and making sure their perspective is properly represented within their organizations.

How would you “Reshape the Telecoms industry” if you could?
As part of this Telecom industry, we all can play our part by providing a seat at the table to the women engineers as part of the technology and business roadmap planning and decision making. I would invite the industry leaders to make intentional efforts to embrace the leadership style, the knowledge and experience, and the grace that the women engineers bring.