Meeting ‘Glamgineer’ Hannah Hargreaves
The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe at less than 10% where Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus lead with nearly 30%. To get a better feel for what it’s like to work in such a male dominated industry we wanted to speak women brushing the statistics aside to establish fulfilling careers in the sector.
Meet Hannah Hargreaves. Having worked across a number of customer service roles in the banking sector she took the plunge into the world of telecoms. Hannah is a self-described ‘Glamgineer’ who has been an Openreach Engineering Trainee for the past year.
Having recently featured in the Metro newspaper and Openreach’s recruitment videos, she’s the go-to woman for women looking to get into telecoms engineering. Here, she shares a few minutes with us in our #BalanceforBetter series in honour of International Women’s Day.
You describe yourself as a ‘glamgineer’, what does that mean and what made you want to become one?
The reason I’d describe myself this way is because I’m not letting a normally ‘manly job’ dictate what I look like. I still wear the same make up as I did when I worked in a bank and I still identify as being really girly.
It’s my own way of proving that engineering isn’t just a man’s job or that you can’t be a girly girl and do an engineering role. Basically, you can be whoever you are!
What is a typical day in the life of a telecoms engineer?
Busy! Crazy busy. I wake up and usually pick up 4 jobs that could be anything. Putting up new wires, ladders on and off the van, up poles, working in green boxes. Basically, it’s like a pick and mix and you have no idea what you’ll get.
“The more women we empower and inspire the less intimidating it becomes.”
In your experience, what’s the gender balance like in the utilities/telecoms sector? Do you think it could benefit from better diversity? If so, why?
It’s a male dominated field but all the men in the field are lovely. I do think more women would enjoy it even if they don’t think that they would. Most of my friends don’t know how I work outdoors. I think this can be off putting until you actually give it a go.
Why do you think there is an imbalance? What do you think we can do to encourage more women to pursue careers in engineering?
I think looking at how many men do engineering roles and knowing there are few women can be intimidating. But the more women we empower and inspire the less intimidating it becomes.
“Most women ask where do I go to the bathroom? What are they like? What are guys like to work with?”
How would someone go about getting into engineering? What experience/qualifications would they need? Is there a traditional route into a telecoms engineering career?
The great thing about Openreach is you work while you study. You just need to be able to drive!
What advice would you give to someone who wanted your job?
Speak to me. I can help you get there. I can answer any questions. Most women ask where do I go to the bathroom? What are they like? What are guys like to work with? I’m happy to answer anything no matter how big or small! Just reach out on LinkedIn.
Hannah’s refusal to yield to traditional stereotypes has helped her embrace a new career she loves without compromising her sense of identity. An active advocate for female engineers, she’s more than happy to chat with anyone considering a telecoms career change. You can follow her antics by connecting with her on LinkedIn.