AUSTIN, Texas -- WiC at Big Communications Event -- 5G doesn't just promise higher speeds, greater capacity and lower latency; it also opens up "an era for women we've never seen before," according to Intel's Caroline Chan.
Whereas the traditional telecom industry lacks for female engineers, 5G -- by virtue of merging telco and IT -- presents a much friendlier environment for women and one where a strict engineering background is less of a mandate, Chan, who is the vice president and general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division at Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), told attendees at WiC's conference ahead of BCE. (See WiC Radio & Intel: Betting Big on Your Career .)
There are already more women in IT-related fields than in engineering -- only about 14% of engineers are women compared to 24.4% of computer programmers, according to the United Census Bureau, and the two worlds will continue to converge around 5G. (See Which States Have the Smallest Gender Gap in STEM Occupations? )
5G also casts a larger job net, in that it is affecting many different verticals and enterprises, sparking new partnerships that telcos haven't traditionally explored. Its applicability may attract even more women to the field. (See Intel Eyes Fab 5G Future, Not Another Mobile Mess.)
"I see 5G having a lot more women," Chan said, noting that it's all about "different verticals with different life experiences and careers coming together." She said, "5G impacts all our lives in terms of dollars, technology and use cases."
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Whether 5G naturally lends itself to women or not, Chan and the panelists on the "future of tech" panel agreed that 5G is one technology that is worth the hype, even if timelines around its deployment may be ambitious. It will open up jobs; however, Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of the Computing System Product Group at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), warned they could be in areas where the female pipeline is challenged. (See Qualcomm Study Predicts 5G Will Create 22M Jobs by 2035.)
The panelists advised for women to take advantage of new technologies and be ready for them. They suggested to always keep learning, read about everything that is going on in the industry even outside the scope of your job, industry and geography and to follow the money trail -- if a company is writing a check for it, it's not hype, Chan said. Finally, Chan encouraged women to get excited about 5G and enter the field despite their reservations. (See The Future of Tech Is Coming: Are You Ready?)
"Don't think of tech as a scary math formula but as a way to apply your passion, whether it’s a better retail business model or managing healthcare for elderly people," Chan advised attendees. "Use that passion and apply and merge that with your school, with engineering. Engineering is not pure math."
— Sarah Thomas, , Director, Women in Comms