Women in Wireless
Welcome to more than seven dirty words. The official FCC podcast. I'm Evan Schwartz. Trevor with the broadcast repack going on in the race to five G tower. Work is essential and demand for these services and tower is up from fifty foot cell towers to two thousand foot broadcast towers important work needs to be done to make sure that America's communication services continued to work and improve as upgrades are made. It's really easy to take for granted. When our cell phones work in our televisions work. It's not pixie dust. It's hard work often gritty dirty work that gets the job done. So what are underway to develop and strengthen this vital workforce? Particularly when it comes to women and telecom infrastructure, joining me to discuss this Andy Lee of Lee tenant in line service and chairwoman of women of Nate Nate is the national association of tower rectors Andy thanks for joining thanks for having me. And also joining is Miranda Allen of radio safety international. And also a member of the women of Nate committee maranda, thanks for joining thanks for having has. So I. Asked this of all of my guests because telecom is not the most obvious career path. How did you get to where you are if you wouldn't mind giving me your brief backstories in any order? My husband got into the telecom industry. I as a started as a tower climber worked his way up to crew leader and in a series of unfortunate events had a fall off of tower within about a year and a half of being in the industry and certain mistakes were made that day that could have been easily prevented and we decided to create our own company and do things the right way from beginning to end in have been focused on safety as the most important part of this industry ever since twenty two years later. Well, okay. I actually grew up in the industry. My father was a ham radio operator. I became a ham operator in second grade as a science fair project. I did Morse code later. So I have been involved in the industry, I left for awhile. And then I came back in two thousand and five so it wasn't ever an industry. I thought I would end up in. But because I understood in new it. I thought hey, it powers everything that we do. So that's how I ended up until calm. And how have you guys seen the of Lucien of the industry when it comes to women over the years, people might not associate telecom infrastructure work as a job that women might be interested in or where there's a large representation there? So how is that volved over time and kind of where things now? When I first started. There were quite a few husband and wife teams owners co owners of companies tower companies that we saw out there, but the women mostly handled administrative work manhandled the outside telecommunications work, and now you're seeing within the last five years more and more women in the industry engineers sales administrative tower climbers tower owners, it is increasing at a rapid rate. We have such a need for more employees in the industry right now. And so we are reaching out to try to get more and more women to join what's a really interesting and fast paced industry, and given the, you know, demand and some of the worker shortages and skills, gaps is just a big untapped potential is huge untapped potential more of the population. Yes. And what are some of the challenges facing women in the telecom industry is it you know, awareness is descr. Nation education, gaps combination of all three combination of all three. We don't have necessarily the perfect set up right now for women were we were creating and as we go along we have women in our women with Nate who who actually do all those their tower company owners they climb day, basically, do everything they were all the hats. And so we're creating and as we go along. So it's really fascinating an interesting time to be able to to join this industry because you can create something from the ground floor up. No, it's hard to get an exact percentage, but we'll chatting before the show you mentioned that there's been a particular growth over the past three to four years that maybe hasn't been seen in the decades past you have a kind of sense of what percentage of the Nate workforce. Or just the tower force writ large is women now. And what was it a few years ago, sir, even three or four years ago? You would see maybe one or two. Female tower climbers at our yearly conference. And now you're seeing handfuls, and those are just the ones that are coming in the conferences. So it's becoming an increasing numbers wise out there. So we we have to develop the training. It's you know, when you have a mixed force out on the field. What's his traditionally always been male? Now, we have to create rules and facilitate the different types of things that need to be met in order to have male female out on the road. But that's an it's an easy fix. It's something that is made to too big a deal out of as far as it can't be done. It certainly can be done and having the two perspectives out in the field. I think is something that is overlooked and those companies that we know who who look for female tower climbers say repeatedly, how glad they are that they've gone this direction and. It's added a whole new dimension to what they do. And a lot of industries say that having a diverse set of perspectives whether it's tower climbing or something else certainly is borne out in their profit margins as well as their workplace atmosphere and all sorts of things like that so Miranda. I know you're very focused on the recruitment aspect getting young people interested or some of the challenges there. I mean, when you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, a often, say baseball player, firefighter, whatever tar clamor, right? And then they get told that the only way to get a job is through a four year liberal arts degree. So there's a lot of opportunities, and I'm on the eight member services committee, and I've been on that committee for several years. And it's it's something how do we recruit members? How do we retain the members that we have? And I think that it's really important to get their first out a initial level. So kids can say what you want to be. When I grow up on a tire claimer, I wanna be Intel calmer. I wanna power my cell phone. But I also think we have to get out there in other nontraditional manners, such as, you know, workforce development programs going through the. Work person job center placement different groups like that because there's opportunity to make a very good wage in our industry people. Just don't realize that we exist, and they don't understand what we do. And so we can get to people and partner with different groups. I think there is a lot of opportunity, and it's maybe a resources issue in the sense that you have companies and they are needing to deal with five G. They're needing to deal with the broadcast repack. They have to recruit new members they have to train them, and they don't necessarily have the capacity to both tackle the existing projects in front of them. But also think about future pipelines. So what sorts of partnerships are currently being struck or imagined in the future to draw on the resources of others. Whether it's factures of equipment or it's community colleges, or it's state workforce boards is that part of your thinking. Yes. I something that we talked about before a little bit was I would really love to see going into high schools in talking to advisors for students who are coming in who don't know what they wanna do. And maybe thinking about two years or four years, but but not sure what that title might be and that being on a list of possibilities. You can make a very good. Very good living being in tower climber or being involved in this industry across the board. If they knew it was available so getting to prospective employees sooner earlier, I think is the key. Also engaging that the different groups that maybe have never seen or don't even understand that it's available and possibly people that are displaced from the current positions. We do where's and wireless. Some of those groups where military transition transitioning out of active duty into their civilian career. And how do we engage them, and whatever -tunities can we have to work with them? And so it's just creating awareness. I really think is is where we're at and we've been working on that for several years and Nate as a whole has been doing that as well. If this doesn't really fit into the traditional two year college degree or four year college degree gives the listeners a sense of what kind of numbers we're talking about. When when we hear about how long does it take to get your foot in the door with training? You know, how long does it take to be fully fledged climber that can deal with multiple projects? I mean, if it's not two years. What is it in our experience with our company we really look at somebody and being at about a year really being. Available and capable of handling almost any situation on the field. So we do a focus in we do an evaluation, you know, three or four times to see where we're at. When things we haven't checked off on the list, and then getting them out in the field, and creating a situation, even if it's not something that we're working on a job currently to make sure that we've checked all those things off and we've gotten that all in. So it's being very thorough with making sure that all all of the checklist is checked on. This is obviously personal for you. We cry safety issue. So you know, when you're dealing with teaching them how to deploy infrastructure climate tower, a large portion of the training, and workforce development is purely safety oriented as we send our employees out for as many safety. Skill sets training certificates as there is. The board anything that we can get a hold of we have every certificate in their wallet yet. And if you could, you know, wave a magic wand and try to tackle some of these challenges, whether it's funding, whether it's education, I mean, what sorts of things would you like to see happen at all levels of government or in the private sector. If there are things you the companies could be doing better, you know, if you were kinda in the driver's seat could just snap your fingers. What would you do? I would I the number one thing that we see is. You know, we see other tower climbers on sites when we go out who have taken into our course and think they're certified in they have a certificate. They're certified to be a tower climber and creating unsafe situations for the next hour climbers. You've come up behind them. So having a standardized training which would involve in essential amount of time and one day isn't going to cut it two weeks isn't going to cut it couple months. Maybe even isn't gonna cut it. But having. Checklist. So recheck everything off to make sure that the person that was there before you hung something safely. So that we can follow up behind and work on that work on that item. And I definitely think that's something that we're working through as an industry, and we want to be part of that solution. So we see it from the carriers on down to individual contractors, and it needs to be that. Self vetting and audits to make sure that they are qualified in skilled people out there in the field to keep safe. Because ultimately at the end of the day, we want people to go home safely, and I'm a safety professional that is what I do. I live and breathe health and safety. And so it's very important that there is that enforcement in that self policing as a group that we come together. And we've really I've seen a huge change in that probably over the past six or seven years since USA was formed, and we're starting to work together to accomplish some of these goals and make our industry Sefer Torah workers are at the heart of so much innovation and communications deployment in this country. We've got things on the horizon five G next generation TV ac- three. I'll ask each of you the same question. What excites you most being in this industry about the next year? Five ten years of technology development in the space. Well, for a personal standpoint having had some medical issues in the past. I I would say medical applications is something that I must excited about being able to coordinate information being able to send real time information being able to not be, you know, redundant the crosscheck will already be there. So for myself, personally, I would say the medical applications of the next few years. We're going to be exciting on the of cecelia's also very focused on telemedicine. So we have that in common. Yes. And I serve on some rural hospital board as well. And so that's exciting. But I think it's just the variety and the opportunities things that we don't even think about at this point are going to be developed and said, it's an ever changing industry and there's so much variety, which I think is exciting. I think it gives us a lot of choices and a lot of different directions. But with that because that education in that continuum of how do we train our employees to keep up with all the current changes? And then what is being of all? In the future. So let's say I have a hypothetical listener right now. Young woman not necessarily sure that she wants to go into a traditional career path. Not sure if she wants to go the four year route likes technology, but maybe see some challenges. Whether it's all the things we've mentioned what's your message for her? You can do it. Just get a hold of women of Nate's or Nate that can lead you in the directions of companies that are safe, and that are quality and that will ensure that you have the knowledge to do your job. There's a lot of opportunity out there. And we have a lot of open positions that we need to fill. So if you're remotely interested get on and learn about the climber video connection that we have where we have videos that kind of show you what we do. And that's all the Nate home dot org. Homepage. I would say that the possibilities are endless there of reaching out to the Nate website. And in looking for there are company openings everywhere and trying it out. I think they would be a lot of surprise in skill sets that you already have that would apply to the tower industry right now, and you would fit right in with some training. So anyone can can do this with the right amount of training and propensity for you know, certain engineering, our electrical mechanical aptitudes, and in a lot of these things can be taught if you have those aptitudes final thoughts for the listeners anything we didn't cover. I I would just say it's a really exciting time not only in our industry, but for women in general, you know, we are getting an opportunity to have more of a voice in everything that we do every single day and this industry is you know, as. As we are. They know in the ground up with women being in it in smaller numbers, we have a chance to create our own destiny with that. And there's very few things you can do that do that right now, you know, where you can start in something and help create the model, and this is it, and as we say we are one women of Nate, and we can help each other rise. We can help our industry rise, and we can continue to build within the industry itself and continue to empower other women and bring each other in Nate home dot com is a great place to find out all about what we do. And who we are. And our information for one is there as well. Well, do so that is a very exciting time. A lot of conversations now around in this country, not just in the context of tower climbing, but in other industries about workforce development, having a workforce that is skilled that is ready for the twenty first century jobs that are going to be needed. So I doubt this'll be the last time. We talk about it on the FCC podcast. But I really appreciate you guys coming into sharing your personal story and talking about what needs to get done for the workforce and just providing your unique perspective on these issues. So with that, my guests have been Andy Lee of leeann tenant and line service and chairwoman of women of Nate and Miranda Allen of radiofrequency safety international and a member of the women of Nate committee. Thank you so much for joining us finest podcast, and the I tuned store Google play or wherever you get your podcast. He's leaves a review because we'll help others. Find the show if you have ideas on things you like to hear on the podcast feel free to reach out to me. You can find me on Twitter at Evan s underscore FCC. Thanks for listening.