How digitalization opens new doors for women pursuing technical career paths

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Diversity and gender equality are at the heart of Schneider Electric’s strategy and values. We are committed to acting as an “agent of change” and building a world in which women can thrive in professions commonly more open to men. This is particularly true in maintenance services areas where working conditions have traditionally been physically demanding. Today, important technology trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and digitalization make such work more accessible to the new generation of educated workers, including many women.

I wanted to share with my readers a recent conversation that I had with our Asia/Pacific Regional Field Services Operation Leader, Laure Crespo. We discussed how digitalization was opening new job opportunities for women interested in technical field services positions. She made several interesting observations that I wanted to share.

First, she updated me on statistics regarding the number of women currently involved in technical jobs, such as engineering. If we take the U.S., for example, the ratio of electrical engineers is 90% men to 10% women. For mechanical engineers, the ratio is slightly better at 84% male to 16% female.

Second, there are many reasons why such a disparity exists. Below is a short list of only the more obvious ones:

  • Narrowly defined higher-level education engineering curriculums have historically not attracted women
  • Traditional workplace human resource departments develop technical job descriptions that appeal more to men
  • Men predominately lead engineering departments

A transition to a more multi-disciplinary training approach

However, Laure is optimistic that these women in tech statistics are about to change soon. She points out that the way colleges and universities design their engineering curriculums is evolving. Many are now emphasizing the interdisciplinary, collaborative, and societal aspects of engineering. For example, more business and IT-related education is being integrated into the engineering curriculums. These are sub-disciplines that many more women are familiar with and that can serve as an effective bridge to tying in the more technical aspects of their education.

She also explained that technology trends such as Industry 4.0 and digitalization are opening new doors for women who choose to pursue technical careers. In our company, for example, our Services Plans enable condition-based maintenance with the remote monitoring of assets and systems. Why is this important? This changes the way maintenance is performed. Rather than always repairing equipment only after a breakdown occurs, which consumes time and money, a tablet with diagnostic software can now be used to monitor the health and behavior of equipment and prevent failures before they happen. When the issue is not critical, it makes it possible for our field service technicians to provide more of the servicing for our customers from their own homes.

This helps all our employees, either men or women, to be in a better position to handle family responsibilities and any unplanned events that occur during traditional working hours. This added flexibility now avoids a situation where adults are away from home, and their children, for long periods.

Some of the remote support activities our technical services people now execute include remote site audits and walkthroughs, remote technical support, and remote training. Sophisticated tools, such as assisted reality glasses, enable local support people to be guided by experts from anywhere in the world to perform on-site installation or maintenance. Men and women from our service teams have used such tools to support major technology rollouts across diverse geographic areas.

Digitalization creates endless opportunities for women who pursue technical careers

Climate change, reinvention of key industries, a rapidly evolving global economy, the energy crisis, and the widespread shortage of experienced workers are all new challenges that companies are facing. More than ever, most organizations now depend upon the expertise of qualified services people to help them meet these challenges to create a business environment that is safe, efficient, resilient, and sustainable. To help our customers achieve these goals, Schneider Electric is recruiting women and men to fill field services sales,  technician, and remote support engineering roles.

These roles are changing rapidly because digitalization is transforming the maintenance business. With data analytics and remote monitoring in place to anticipate equipment breakdowns, the screwdriver is often being replaced by a tablet.

We encourage women with little or no technical or engineering experience to consider entering our technical career paths by offering them extensive training programs. In addition to virtual reality and virtual classroom training, our new Field Service Representatives (FSRs), for example, spend nine months to a year shadowing and assisting experienced FSRs before they are dispatched to work independently.

For more information

We feel that fostering a healthy balance of women and men in our technical workforce is always good for our company and customers. Women and men often approach problems in different ways. Inputs that involve several perspectives almost always lead to innovative solutions, which, in turn, result in higher customer satisfaction.

To learn more about how you can get started in a Schneider Electric technical service and support career, visit our careers website.

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