Women in Engineering program a finalist for global diversity award
UNSW’s Women in Engineering Program reaches the final three in international GEDC Airbus Diversity Awards.
In a great honour for UNSW’s burgeoning Women In Engineering Program (WIE), and in recognition of its success in attracting and supporting female students, the program was one of three nominated finalists in the global GEDC Airbus Diversity Awards, winning a runners-up prize of USD$1,500 to support the communication of their work.
WIE Manager Dr Alex Bannigan travelled to Niagara Falls in Canada in mid-October to present the successes and learnings of the WIE Program to a distinguished international jury and the conference audience at the GEDC Annual Conference.
“Although our program didn’t win the overall award, as a runner-up we have been able to promote UNSW Engineering on the world stage as well as highlight the continuing gap in gender diversity in Engineering,” says Bannigan.
The GEDC Airbus Diversity Awards shine a light on successful projects which have encouraged more young people of all profiles and backgrounds to study and succeed in engineering. The award was developed and funded by Airbus in partnership with the GEDC (Global Engineering Dean’s Council), the leading international organisation for schools and colleges providing engineering education. For this fifth anniversary edition, the award was placed under UNESCO patronage.
Jean-Brice Dumont, upcoming Executive Vice President of Engineering Airbus Commercial Aircraft, member of Airbus' Diversity and Inclusion Steering Board, and Patron of the Award was very complimentary of UNSW’s contribution. “My favourite thing about the UNSW Women in Engineering Program is that it is run like an industry project with a clear goal, a drumbeat and a pace of execution,” he says. “They are really running with it, reaching their goals and achieving a powerful outcome by the way they execute the project.”
My favourite thing about the UNSW Women in Engineering program is that it is run like an industry project with a clear goal, a drumbeat and a pace of execution.
Jean-Brice Dumont upcoming Executive Vice President of Engineering Airbus Commercial Aircraft
UNSW’s WIE Program was selected as a finalist due to its success over the last four years in breaking down barriers and raising awareness of engineering opportunities for women. The number of women starting engineering degrees at UNSW has increased by 45% since 2013.
“At UNSW, our ultimate goal is for the engineering industry to be representative of the people it serves. For a start, that means that 50% of engineers should be women. This will benefit the engineering industry itself, as well as society as a whole,” says Bannigan.
“People claim that women and girls simply aren’t interested in engineering, but in my experience that’s not true at all. Once they know what engineering actually is, and the kind of work that engineers do, girls, particularly if they are interested in science, find engineering very appealing.”
By looking at the whole pipeline, UNSW’s WIE Program has also worked with industry partners to help companies achieve their diversity goals and transformations, as well as engaging alumni and industry partners as speakers, mentors and sponsors.
UNSW Dean of Engineering Professor Mark Hoffman says he is very proud of how the Program has encouraged and supported female participation in engineering and to be recognised at the GEDC Airbus Diversity Awards is testament to the hard work the Faculty has put in.
“It is no small feat to have been able to reach over 7,500 female students through our outreach projects and to be able to offer Women in Engineering Scholarships valued at over $1.4M,” he says. “We are well on our way to reaching our target of 30% female enrolments by 2020.”