“How can we win at the innovation game if half of our potential engineers are not taking part in the race?” says Mark Hoffman, UNSW’s Dean of Engineering. He’s a man of his word, pioneering the Women in Engineering diversity program that aims to bring female enrolments in engineering up to 30%.
At present, only 23% of the UNSW Engineering cohort is female – and this is actually an improvement on the national average of 17%. Beyond just the motivation of gender equality in the industry, female enrolments could increase the number of sorely-needed graduates entering employment.
“There are just not enough engineering graduates to meet domestic demand, and demand is high,” says Kimberley Burdett, education manager for the faculty.
Not enough by far. Mark Hoffman says that the current demand outstrips supply twice as much as a decade ago. Potential engineers are almost guaranteed a job, with 91.6% of graduates finding full time employment within 3 years.
Not only that, but the field offers attractive salaries especially for female engineers. “The average starting salary for engineering graduates is higher for women than for men. Name another profession where that’s the case.” says Hoffman.
“There may be young women in high school right now who could become some of the best engineers ever born – but if they don’t know about the profession and what it offers, they’ll never realise that potential,” said Sarah Coull, Manager of the Women in Engineering program at UNSW’s Faculty of Engineering.
“If we succeed, it’s a win for them as individuals, it’s a win for us as a society and it’s a win for the engineering profession.”
More than 100 young women are attending UNSW’s Women in Engineering Summer Camp this week, meeting professional role models and visiting companies like Transport for NSW, the Royal Australian Navy, IAG’s Firemark Labs and Tooheys brewery.
It seems to be working too, over 65% of past attendees end up enrolling in Engineering with UNSW.
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Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is the Digital Producer for Careers with STEM. Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.