UNSW wins award for gender diversity
Engineers Australia names UNSW’s Women in Engineering (WIE) Program ‘Most Encouraging Student Group in Gender Diversity’ at 2016 Gala Dinner
UNSW’s WIE Program aims to increase the number of women in engineering by inspiring school-aged girls and working with female engineering students and professionals. The program’s efforts – which focus on recruitment, retention, and recognition - were celebrated with this prestigious award.
“It’s important to reach out to talented young women before they enter university, and show them what exciting career pathways they can access” says Dr Alex Bannigan, UNSW’s Women in Engineering Manager. “Once they get to university, the Women in Engineering Program is vital in helping female engineers feel supported, and allows them to establish themselves in a male-dominated industry.”
Since the program began in 2014, recruitment events have brought over 850 young women on campus to experience engineering through hands-on activities, and reached out to hundreds more through school visits. Feedback has consistently shown that these initiatives increase the students’ interest in studying STEM.
It’s the program’s aim to see this increased interest translate to increased enrolments in Engineering courses at University. UNSW is actively growing the number of female Engineering enrolments at UNSW – in 2013 they accounted for 19% of the first year students, growing to 23% in 2016. By 2020, UNSW Engineering hopes to see females representing 30% of all enrolments.
To complement this initiative, UNSW Engineering, in partnership with seven other Australian universities launched Made by Me, a nationwide campaign aimed at piquing students’ interest in STEM subjects. The campaign was launched on 15 July with a video clip featuring Australian DJ duo NERVO. The official video for their song People Grinnin’ showcases the engineering behind everyday objects such as smartphones, drinking water, and makeup. The campaign has already reached thousands of people Australia-wide.
For current engineering students, the Women in Engineering Development Program provides exceptional opportunities to network, volunteer, mentor, gain leadership skills, and access valuable professional development activities. This program gives female students a sense of community, and allows them to share their experiences with younger women who are still tossing up between university degrees. In 2017, the first cohort of students to access the Women in Engineering Development Program throughout their entire degree will graduate, and will continue to contribute WIE community as alumnae.
“We’re proud to encourage and support gender diversity in the field of engineering to ensure that talented women see engineering careers as real, attractive, and attainable ” says Dr Bannigan. “We feel honoured to receive this award in recognition of our efforts”.