Women are engineers too. That’s the message that the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) are trying to spread this June.
They launched National Women in Engineering Day in the UK on 23 June 2014 to celebrate their 95th anniversary. And by 2017, National Women in Engineering Day gained international coverage due to the enthusiasm shown online, by participants all over the world.
Data from WES revealed that the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe – less than 10%, whilst Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus have around 30%
So we’re celebrating this June (and beyond) by highlighting two fantastic women at O2 who are breaking barriers and crafting a career that works for them. (Coincidentally they are both called Emma…)
Radio Modelling Engineer, O2
Hey Emma Spillane! What do you do and how do you do it?
“I work in Radio (which is part of the mobile network) as a radio modelling engineer. Basically I try to forecast problems that could occur on O2′s mobile network. I analyse how people are using their phones, where they will be and what tech will be available for them.
A large part of my job is solving problems. I am a number cruncher, I look at maps and do geographical stuff as well as coding. We get asked some weird and wonderful questions by the rest of the company like, ‘how many post-codes does O2 cover n the UK?’ – I have to work it out! Doing the maths and trying to come up with a sensible answer is very satisfying.”
How did you get to work as a Radio modelling engineer?
“I’ve been with O2 for three years, I joined on a graduate scheme and after doing some rotations in Radio (which is part of the mobile network), I settled here. In school I had no idea what I wanted to do, and studied General Engineering in Dublin at University, even though I had no Maths and Physics qualifications from school. You can be an engineer without studying that at school if you put the work in.”
Engineering is very male-dominated – have you ever felt overlooked or stereotyped?
“To be honest, I’ve been quite lucky, since I’ve started working it seems to be an advantage to be the only woman in the room. People want to hear what you have to say because you have a different opinion to the others in the room. In Uni, I did come across some stereotypical views, but it was never anything that I worried about.
Initially as a graduate at O2, the teams were all male, but now we have a bit of a mix which is great.”
Hey Emma Imtiaz! What do you do and how do you do it?
I am a Project Manager in Smart Networks. I manage projects and deliverables within Smart Metering which is the largest Internet of Things (IoT) project in the world.
How did you get into your role?
I finished my apprenticeship programme back in September 2016 and I had to decide where I would like to have my permanent role. I had worked in several placements within Networks whilst on the apprenticeship programme, reflecting on my time in each team I realised that I enjoyed managing pieces of work and that being a project manager would be a role that I would enjoy as well as being a challenge.
Why is it important for women to continue breaking boundaries in engineering?
It is important for woman to show that they are equals and are just as great and can work just as hard as men. We need to break down the stereotype wall!
Have you noticed that you’ve had to overcome any barriers as a woman in this field?
I haven’t noticed that I have had to overcome any barriers being a woman in the engineering field. Working at O2 is so great as they advocate gender diversity and everyone that works here is so friendly and make you feel equal.
Have you ever had a mentor?
I had a mentor for a couple of months when I first joined O2 as an apprentice and am currently exploring the idea to have another one. I am also going to become a mentor for the newest intake of apprentices joining us in September.
How would you advise aspiring women in engineering to forge a successful career?
Do what you enjoy and work hard. Learn from the experts with years’ worth of experience as we are the next generation who are going to make a difference. It is an exciting time to be working within the engineering field as there are so many advances in ‘Smart technology’ and the world that we live in, this is the way forward.
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