Careers focussed events at UOW tackling shortage of women in Engineering sector

Event organisers: Sofie Kokalevski, Employer Programs Coordinator at Careers Central (left) and Jessica Davis, Vice President of the UOW Women in Engineering Society. Photo: Heather Wortes

Event organisers: Sofie Kokalevski, Employer Programs Coordinator at Careers Central (left) and Jessica Davis, Vice President of the UOW Women in Engineering Society. Photo: Heather Wortes

Female engineering students at the University of Wollongong (UOW) had the opportunity to network with 19 potential employers at UOW’s first Women in Engineering Networking Morning Tea, an initiative developed as a result of strong employer interest in recruiting female engineering students.

Vice President of the UOW Women in Engineering Society, Jessica Davis, said that the aim of the morning tea was to provide an opportunity for employers to meet female engineering students.

“We had some feedback from employers that were looking to be connected with female students,” Jessica said.

“Because they want to get more females in the industry overall they are looking at universities and thinking about the programs they have in place to benefit female students studying engineering.”

The morning tea was held as part of the Engineering and IT Careers Expo on Tuesday 11th August, which was attended by over 400 students. The events were hosted by Careers Central and the UOW Women in Engineering Society, with the support of Event Partner Defence Force Recruiting.

Activities Coordinator at Defence Force Recruiting, Ryan Brown, said that female engineering graduates are highly sought after for positions in the defence force due to the skills they acquire at University.

“We are seeking female engineering students for their leadership skills and ability to work effectively as part of a team,” Ryan said.

Engineers Australia estimates that women make up only 14% of engineering enrolments and 11% of the engineering labour force. Ryan said that Defence Force Recruiting is tackling these low numbers by attending events like the Expo.

“We are getting the few female engineers we have to talk about their experiences and their work and to dispel a few myths about the industry,” he said.

Jessica said she was surprised at the number of employers at the Expo who, like Defence Force Recruiting, aren’t recruiting engineering students to be engineers.

“There were a lot of employers at the expo that don’t have specific engineering jobs but still take engineering graduates because they like the way we think and problem solve,” she said.

Jessica attributes the low numbers of women enrolling in engineering to female high school students being put off applying for the degree as they think it’s only for males.

“Girls don’t really think of it as something they can do,” she said.

Jessica was inspired to apply for an engineering degree at UOW after fencing for the Hume Highway Bypass Project during her gap year. She saw the roads and bridges being constructed and thought it was something she could do.

“I think if girls knew about engineering they’d be a lot more interested in studying it.”

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