UQ's Women in Engineering program is attracting record numbers.
UQ's Women in Engineering program is attracting record numbers.
16 April 2014

The University of Queensland’s Women in Engineering program has cemented its leading position in Australia, with women making up 24.4 per cent of the 2014 undergraduate student intake.  

This is the highest ever female intake at UQ and places the University well above the state, national and Group of Eight averages.

Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology acting Executive Dean Professor Caroline Crosthwaite said the Women in Engineering program was established as a university-led, industry-funded initiative to address the gender disparity in engineering at both the tertiary and industry levels.

“UQ is committed to increasing female participation in engineering studies so that, ultimately, industry will benefit from more women pursuing engineering careers,” Professor Crosthwaite said.

“At present, women account for less than 13 per cent of the engineering workforce in Australia, and industries that employ engineers are missing the benefits that diversity brings to technically grounded problem solving.

“We have high ambitions for the program, with the aim to achieve 30 per cent female enrolments by 2023.

She said the 2014 female cohort intake of 24.4 per cent compared to 21.2 per cent in 2013.

UQ Women in Engineering Development and Communication Manager Meg Stephensen said the results from the program’s first year could largely be attributed to a focus on high school outreach.

“In 2013, we directly engaged with more than 1600 female high school students from 47 schools through on-campus and in-school engagement,” Ms Stephensen said.

“At each of our events we drive home the message that engineering offers diverse and exciting career opportunities and that a career in engineering is second to none with respect to the profound impact engineers can have on the world’s future.”

Engineering industry leaders Rio Tinto, the Australian Power Institute and The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association have partnered with the University in offering the program, committing five years of financial support. 

Rio Tinto Manager for Investments, Energy, Asuka Kagawa said the industry partners were extremely satisfied with the first year’s results.

“Rio Tinto is delighted with the initial increases in women accepting places to study engineering at the University of Queensland and we are looking forward to helping UQ to improve these numbers into the future,” Ms Kagawa said.

Australian Power Institute Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer Michael Griffin said the company was pleased with the program’s early success, acknowledging the fusion of industry and academic input that had supported the process.

 “We are supporting the Women in Engineering initiative to share their learnings, experiences and approach with other universities across Australia,” Mr Griffin said.

Media: UQ Women in Engineering Program, Suzie Drayton, 0404 030 506, s.drayton@uq.edu.au.