Telecoms firms back women’s day project

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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BT, Ericsson, O2 and Vodafone announce expansion of programme to get girls into technology on International Women’s Day

Three operators and a vendor are extending a project designed to encourage girls to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The three operators – BT, Telefónica’s O2 and Vodafone – and Ericsson began the scheme a year ago and have announced that it will be extended to Birmingham as part of International Women’s Day 2017.

Women’s networks from each of the four companies launched the 2016 scheme in London to work in partnership with Girls Talk London, an organisation which aims to empower women to learn from others in senior roles in business.

Ivelina Koleva, head of global cyber security commercial bids at BT, said: “There are so many STEM career opportunities for women to pursue and we are excited about the role we can play in continuing to inspire and support female school leavers who may be considering such a career. This year BT is piloting the scheme in Birmingham and we’re very keen to turn it into another success story.”

More than 30 school students have been selected from 100 applicants and matched with a mentor from each of the businesses involved. The girls will receive one session a month with their mentor until October, as well as a full week of work experience in July.

Jeni Mundy, Vodafone’s group enterprise product management director, said: “A career in STEM can be hugely rewarding and stimulating, so we are proud to be part of this scheme to both inform and encourage more girls to aim for roles in this sector. This year we will be providing eight mentors for girls in London to offer help and advice to shape their future career in the technology field. We believe we should be many, not few.”

Federica Mills, who chairs UK Women Network at Ericsson, said: “This is a brilliant and concrete example of Ericsson’s commitment to addressing the gender imbalance and attracting female talent in the ICT industry. Working together, we will have more young women pursuing studies in STEM subjects and considering careers in ICT.”

The four companies they hope the programme will expand to other locations across the UK through further collaboration.

Global Telecoms Business will be publishing our latest list of 50 Women to Watch in the May/June issue, out in early June. For last year's list, see here. Nominations for the 2016 list should go to the editor, Alan Burkitt-Gray, at, with the subject line: Women to Watch nomination