Celebrating every colour of the rainbow
I am so pleased to be able to introduce to you the raft of amazing projects and people that highlight just how diverse our faculty is, and how we are working to promote equity and inclusivity in all our research and teaching programs.
At the end of last year, our faculty worked to develop our Engineering Values; a set of guiding principles that underpin our strategy and trajectory for all our programs. Our first value highlights the importance we place in our community on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) as it states: “Integrity, respect and valuing diversity are non-negotiable. Integrity and respect underpin all we do. Different perspectives spur innovative thinking.”
This sentiment drives our approach to training the next generation of engineers and developing world-leading research that tackles the grand challenges of our society. Engineers shape the world we live in, and to develop solutions that are truly creative and innovative, we recognise that we need teams that represent all the diverse viewpoints and experiences of our community.
This is something that has been a major part of the UNSW Engineering vision over the last three years. In 2018, I was appointed the inaugural Associate Dean (Equity and Diversity) at UNSW Engineering, with a remit to promote EDI across all of the faculty. Through a variety of programs we are aiming to challenge the paradigm about what it takes to be an engineer, such as our Girls in Engineering Club, our newly launched Science and Engineering Indigenous Pre-program, and our diverse student societies including UNSW Engiqueers and WiESoc. We are now focusing on supporting the talents of our current and potential future academic staff, through comprehensive flexible work policies, leadership programs and training, and visiting fellowships.
A major responsibility of my role is chairing our Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Committee made up of professional and academic staff, undergraduates, post-graduates and early career academics. Each are passionate about making UNSW Engineering world-leading in equity. We have five Faculty Champions, who work to drive change in the key diversity areas: Gender, LGBTIQ, Disability, Flexible Work, and Cultural Diversity. Through their initiative, we support many events and programs that reach out to underrepresented groups, and evaluate every policy we have for its impact on minority members of our community.
It is very fitting that we are highlighting EDI at this time of year. Over the last few weeks, we’ve had a number of exciting events on campus to highlight the diversity of our Faculty and champion the efforts of everyone. The last week of February was Mardi Gras, and our own Engiqueers (in conjunction with the fantastic staff at the Makerspaces) have built an installation to celebrate our LGBTIQ+ community. We were also invited to join UNSW’s attempt to make our first ever human rainbow and Engineering was well represented in the colour red! Then earlier this month, we had International Women’s Day (IWD), with several activities that promote the amazing work our female graduates have pursued. A personal highlight for me is always the IWD brunch hosted by the wonderful WiESoc team. I am so impressed by the community that WiESoc has created in our undergraduate programs, with mentoring, industry outreach, programs for high schools. They truly demonstrate just how passionate and empowering engineers can be.
I was reminded today about the importance of continuing to make engineering open and inclusive to all in our community, as I heard Bronwyn Evans (CEO Engineers Australia) speak on a panel for the Australian Academy of Science’s conference on Catalysing Gender Equity. She noted that “every kid is a potential engineer”, as they seek to explore and tinker with the world they encounter. Nothing could be more true, and at UNSW Engineering we are advancing with that in our sights.
Associate Professor Lucy Marshall
Associate Dean (Equity and Diversity)