Telent women Choose to Challenge industry stereotypes

At Telent, we recognise that a strong workforce is a gender-diverse workforce. For International Women’s Day this year, we’re taking part in the ‘Choose to Challenge’ theme by challenging perceptions about jobs in STEM, civils, and transport. We’re showing women what a career with Telent looks like – and that our doors are open to skilled women to join one of the leading builders of the U.K.’s critical digital infrastructure.

We’ve spoken to women in the company – including women who joined as apprentices and graduates, a head of department who’s progressed her career whilst having young kids, as well as our CEO Jo Gretton – to hear about their varied experiences in roles and industry that’s still often perceived as more welcoming to men.

The doors are open

The women working at Telent today arrived here through a variety of routes. Emma Wilson is head of our Head of Transformation Delivery for NRTS, a complex and critical transformation project for Highways England. Emma initially entered the industry through an apprenticeship scheme and has ran a number of tech programmes which have taken her across the world and through various sectors.

Apprentice Geraldine Mabhumbo, who’s training to be a Radio Systems engineer, discovered her passion for engineering from a female science teacher with aerospace industry experience in her native Zimbabwe. Graduate Engineer Rail Obe Arunayou did a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering – and then achieved a master’s degree – after deciding a medical career wasn’t for her.

While Geraldine lamented the low number of women on her college engineering course, none of the three women let any outdated perceptions of engineering as better-suited for men hold them back. Obe says that “if you use your hands, nobody can say you don’t have certain skills”.

For Veena Kumari, a Group Network and Security Engineer – Business Support, the fact that only she and one other girl studied IT at school didn’t let her shy away from going down the engineering route. “I knew I wanted to keep pushing myself and challenging myself,” she says, and went on to study Computer Hardware and Software Engineering. As a STEM ambassador at university, she would go to schools to encourage women to join the industry.

How well does the industry accommodate for women?

“A lot of women seem to accept that if they want a family, they have to pause their career – it’s important to know you can have both” says Emma, whose husband paused his own career to look after their family while she went out to work. Her situation, in that traditional roles were reversed, “is a sign of how things have evolved”.

Telent CEO Jo Gretton says that “with our board and shareholders, I never once felt that I had less opportunity to put my hand up and say, ‘this is what I want to do’”.

Shani Latif is Telent’s Sales Director for Network Services. When Shani began her career it was “very male-orientated”, but was possible for her to “stand out by winning large transformational projects which saw the businesses [she] worked for grow”. Although Shani says the business environment is different these days, she is displeased by the “very low percentage of women applying for roles and would like to see more women in sales”.

“Women I’ve met through the industry are at the top of their game”, says Shani.

Obe says that before joining Telent, access to amenities like women’s bathrooms on site was sometimes a challenge but, since joining the company, she’s “settled in well and been treated as well as any other person.”

Although told she would always be a tick-box exercise for recruiters as an Asian woman, Veen believes recruiting people in Telent is based on ability and feels that she’s only judged on her “skills or experience”.

Likewise, Emma believes her working experiences are based on her “abilities as a person and [her] communication skills”.

Don’t let perceptions hold you back

“There is definitely a place for women in engineering, you just need to go for it”, says

Victoria Bullion-Clark, an Operations and Maintenance Engineer (Transport, Highways) at Telent. “Don’t be put off by stereotypes – especially if these are in your own mind”, she says.

Emma Wilson agrees: “Don’t hold yourself back, don’t let your perception of being a woman hold you back. It’s about your capabilities and what you can do”.

“A lot of the blockers are in our own minds”, Jo Gretton says. "You have to go for it and seize opportunities.”

Get involved

There’s no doubt that there’s some way to go towards making STEM industries more accommodating for women. However, Telent are committed to ensuring a level-playing field by publishing our pay-gap reports and using gender-neutral language in our recruitment initiatives to encourage people of all backgrounds to apply for positions.

See how you can get involved with IWD this year by ‘Raising your hand high to show you're in’ on the challenge to inequality. Read more here:

Check out our variety of roles and see if there’s a position at Telent that could kickstart or continue your journey in the industry:

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