Alumni profile - Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth TaylorEm Prof Elizabeth Taylor, AO
BE Civil ‘78

Chair, RedR Australia
Structural engineer, engineering academic, humanitarian engineer.
Previous roles included Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean, Sciences, Engineering & Health at University of Central Queensland 
Awarded the Order of Australia in 2004 for her services to engineering education, and for enhancing the status of women in engineering.

While a student I enjoyed
the hands-on engineering such as making concrete, and the survey camp at Richmond. Project based aspects such as the “Footpath Foreman” activity in first year. In this activity each student was required to find a construction site and, with the permission of the foreman, follow and document progress over the six months of term, write a report and give a presentation to the class. I also enjoyed playing cards in the “Blue Room” in later years.

I did not enjoy the isolation and lack of support. I was not assertive, and the boys did not speak to me for the first year. Upon reflection I feel that it was an unconscious rather than an active exclusion. UNSW at that time reflected the norm culturally. What perhaps is sad is that universities generally reflect rather than challenge prevailing social norms.

Career Highlights: As a professional engineer: construction and contracts engineering on site around Sydney Harbour. As an academic: in collaboration with wonderful colleagues who are passionate about their area of expertise, integrating curriculum and support for students while extending the boundaries of our understanding of our professionalism. I am privileged to have been a part of the movement that made some shift to greater inclusivity within universities, and a member of groups such as AAEE (Australasian Assoc for Engineering Education) and the Women in Engineering Units who were critical change agencies.