“We don’t just want to see gender diversity improve in engineering; we want to see broad change across the industry in Australia and globally.”
The University of Queensland’s (UQ’s) efforts to increase the number of women in engineering graduating from its faculty are proving successful, with the most recent graduating class featuring a record 26 per cent women.
UQ Executive Dean of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology Professor Simon Biggs said the result was a reflection of the faculty’s Women in Engineering program, which has been running for four years.
“The Women in Engineering program was established at UQ as a university-led, industry-funded initiative to address the gender disparity in engineering at both the tertiary and industry levels, and the results so far speak volumes for the value of the program,” he said.
He explained that women currently account for less than 13 per cent of the engineering workforce in Australia and just 17 per cent of graduates nationally. He believes that industries employing engineers are currently missing out on the benefits that diversity brings to technically-grounded problem-solving.
“UQ also recently hosted the first joint university workshop to collaborate and share best practice for recruiting women into engineering,” Biggs said.
More than 30 representatives from 18 universities across Australia, New Zealand and the US state of Colorado attended the event with the long-term objective to see female participation in engineering increase collectively across Australia.
“We don’t just want to see gender diversity improve in engineering at UQ; we want to see broad change across the industry in Australia and globally,” Biggs said.
Second-year chemical and environmental engineering student Geethu George said young women need strong female role models when setting out in engineering careers.
“Being in contact with female academics in my field of study encourages me to keep moving forward with my decision to pursue engineering,” she said.
“Having women in these senior positions and watching them achieve success is essential to increasing female participation in engineering.”