UKTIN celebrates International Women in Engineering Day 2023
UKTIN celebrates International Women in Engineering Day 2023
The connectivity and telecoms sector has a diversity problem: only 3% of its engineers are women. UKTIN Talent – led by WM5G – aims to address this, within a national programme of activity designed to raise awareness and encourage education leavers, career returners and switchers to consider a career in the industry.
As a part of International Women in Engineering Day 2023, we spoke to three successful female engineers working in telecoms: Maria Cuevas, a BT Distinguished Engineer who leads the Networks Research unit in BT’s Network Strategy and Research department; Dimitra Simeonidou, the Co-Director of the Bristol Digital Futures Institute and the Director of Smart Internet Lab at University of Bristol; and Sylvia Lu, an award-winning Chartered Engineer and Non-Executive Director who has over 15 years of experience in the Telecom industry spanning four mobile generations.?
What do you enjoy most about being an engineer in telecoms?
Cuevas: I have always been curious about how things work, and engineering gives me the ability to do that. I also enjoy solving problems but perhaps most significantly, it is about seeing the impact of my work on people’s lives daily.
Simeonidou: I have always been proud to call myself a telecoms engineer. Reflecting on my 30 years long career in the sector, I have seen the growth of the Internet and the rise of mobile communications, now connecting people and businessesat global scale. In every step of this evolution, I can identify elements of my research that enabled such change.Telecoms engineering is an immensely creative, productive and impactful profession, driving visible transformation in our everyday lives.
Lu: I love the opportunity to contribute to the forefront of wireless technologies that have helped to connect billions of people and smart things globally.
Why is your work important?
Cuevas: As the UK’s leading network provider, BT aims to ‘connect for good’. Every day we’re trusted by businesses, governments, and millions of people to keep them connected. This is what makes my work so important as communications technology impacts people – it’s how we stay connected, stay in touch, become more efficient and hopefully, enables us to have more time to spend with our families or work remotely if needed. It’s about the benefit that communications technology brings to individuals in their daily lives. Also, with new technologies, we must take a responsible approach to technology. We develop, use, buy and sell the technology in a way that benefits people and minimises harm. When a business is as integral to daily life as ours, we have a responsibility to make it a force for good.
Simeonidou: Connectivity underpins every aspect of our lives. As a Telecoms Engineering researcher, I have the privilege to imagine and create the future of connectivity. This is not focusing only on technology. Key questions concerning energy consumption and the environment;inclusive and fair connectivity;security, privacy and trust are increasingly the focus. The duty to innovate responsibly for our digital futures is making this profession crucially important.
Lu: It’s about making a real impact – enabling a smarter, more convenient way of living and working and bringing positive changes that matter. It is, without a doubt, an unparalleled experience.
What’s the one thing you’d like people outside the sector to understand about telecoms?
Cuevas: The telecoms business has radically changed in the last two decades. Telecoms is all about providing solutions to help people and businesses live better and work better. We are so much more than just about the broadband line coming to your home, we are a technology company making a real difference to society.
Simeonidou: Imagine a world without the Internet or mobile communications. It is difficult to imagine how individuals and businesses will function even for a few hours. Telecoms Engineers make it all happen and make it look easy most of the time. This is a sector of incredibly talented, passionate, innovative and collaborative professionals. Our work underpins the safety and growth of the entire society and economy.
Lu: It’s the immense variety it offers. It’s not just about cables and antennas; it’s a dynamic landscape brimming with innovation opportunities spanning from 5G, IoT, cloud computing, and AI to cybersecurity, satellite and more. There is a role for everyone! You could be designing secure networks, developing algorithms or apps that transform the way we communicate, or using AI and data to optimise customer experiences. Every day presents unique challenges and exciting problem-solving scenarios, making it a fulfilling career at the heart of technological evolution.
Do you have any advice for women hoping to move into telecoms?
Cuevas: Come and join us! Women are still a relatively small representation in the telecoms sector. If you do have an engineering or technical background or just an interest and passion in technology, there are lots of opportunities. There are many types of other jobs in telecoms too, that do not involve a technology background or an engineering degree.
Simeonidou: Telecoms is still a very male-dominated sector. However, it is a community that embraces diversity. In the past years, I have seen more and more women developing successful and highly visible careers in Telecoms.My advice for women looking for a career in Telecoms is: Do not hesitate, you will have the “ride of your life”. Technology is fast moving and the demand for innovation is endless. There is never a dull moment. One last piece of advice: Find a good and supportive mentor.
Lu: Absolutely! Dive in, ladies! Telecoms is a fast-evolving industry with new technologies emerging regularly; a solid foundation in STEM subjects will be beneficial, yet it’s equally crucial not to underestimate the value of domain expertise you might carry from other sectors.
Reach out and network with women already thriving in the industry. They can provide invaluable insights, mentorship, and support as you navigate this dynamic field.
Also, join professional networks like the UK Telecom Innovation Network (UKTIN). It’s a great platform to keep updated with cutting-edge Telecom trends in the UK and internationally, explore opportunities, and connect with fellow professionals. Your unique perspective as a woman adds immense value to the industry. Your journey in telecoms can be a beacon for future generations of women in STEM.
We’re looking for Telecoms Ambassadors – people who can tell their own stories about what working in telecoms and the connectivity space entails. Keen to find out more? Email email@example.com.