Leicestershire engineer tells her story as BT celebrates National Women in Engineering Day
A female engineer who’s been with BT for eight years hopes more women can follow her into what she says is a ‘challenging but rewarding’ career.
Lauren Bartram, 27, from Leicester, joined Openreach, BT’s local network business, as an engineering apprentice in 2008. She’s worked her way up through the company, and is now playing a leading role in upgrading and maintaining the fibre broadband network across Leicestershire.
She’s telling her story to mark National Women in Engineering Day, an initiative that celebrates the work that women do in engineering, as well as showcasing the great engineering careers that are available for girls.
“Joining BT really was a really good decision for me,” said Lauren, now a field-based network co-ordinator with Openreach. “When I left school, I wasn’t really interested in going to university. I wanted to do something that involved learning and earning at the same time as I knew that’s what suited me best. So I looked at what was out there and an apprenticeship seemed a great option with really good career prospects. I’ve not looked back since.”
The early days of Lauren’s three-year apprenticeship were spent as a customer service engineer. But within 12 months, her career changed direction and she started to work on fibre broadband as a jointer.
“It wasn’t a surprise to find a very male-dominated environment when I started my apprenticeship”, recalled Lauren. “At the time, there were only three female Openreach apprentices across the Midlands. But it was never a problem. Everyone was always very open and willing to help and I’ve always received a great deal of support from my managers and colleagues. Being a female engineer has never held me back.”
Lauren’s current role as a network co-ordinator for Leicestershire means she gets involved with everything from new housing developments to the rollout of fibre broadband as part of the Superfast Leicestershire programme.
The multi-million pound Superfast Leicestershire partnership between BT and Leicestershire County Council has already made fibre broadband available to 63,000 homes and businesses across the county. That’s in addition to more than 308,000 premises already covered by BT’s commercial rollout of the technology.
But what advice would Lauren have for any women or girl thinking of following in her footsteps and choosing a career in engineering?
“It’s a great job and one that I really enjoy. There is a common misconception that the physical side of the role could prove a problem for female engineers, but it’s never been less so. The tools and techniques we use to do the work really do create a level-playing field so the career is very much open to both males and females.
“I get a huge amount of satisfaction from my job and never more so than when I solve a problem for a customer or make technology available for the first time. It’s also a very flexible environment with lots of different challenges, such as resolving complex network issues - but I’d recommend it to anyone.”
National Women in Engineering Day was set up by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) to celebrate its 95th anniversary. Find out more at www.nwed.org.uk.
For more information about the career opportunities at BT please visit www.btplc.com/careercentre.