Industry partners are lending support to The University of Queensland (UQ) Women in Engineering program, prompting a steady increase in women participating in undergraduate engineering studies.

The Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology’s Dr Liza O’Moore said the Women in Engineering program was established six years ago to address gender disparity at both tertiary and industry levels.Rio Tinto, Australian Power Institute, Powerlink Queensland and Ergon Energy and Energex, as part of the Energy Queensland Group, were among sponsors of the program, providing funding, mentorship opportunities and workforce pathways for young women striving for engineering careers.

“UQ leads Australian universities in this area with women accounting for 26 per cent of engineering graduates in 2016, compared to the national average of 17 per cent,” Dr O’Moore said. “We now need to translate this into a diverse workforce by retaining women in the engineering profession, and working closely with industry helps with that. UQ has set an ambitious goal to achieve 30 per cent female enrolments in engineering degrees by 2023. We want to lead excellent women to an engineering industry that is prepared for them, so this program and the partnerships in it are a win-win for industry as well as for our students.”

Powerlink Chief Executive and UQ engineering alumnus Merryn York said inspiring women to take up careers in engineering would result in a more diverse, inclusive profession that better reflected communities. “Working with UQ and its partners, Powerlink can champion engineering as an exciting and important career, supporting and nurturing the next generation of young women to pursue the profession,” Ms York said.

Australian Power Institute Chief Executive Mike Griffin said API was committed to improving diversity and inclusion in power engineering. “For this to be achieved Australia-wide, we are supporting the Women in Engineering initiative to share the program’s learnings, experiences, and approach with other universities across Australia.”

Energy Queensland’s Executive General Manager Assets, Safety and Performance Peter Price said the company had been a proud supporter of the program for many years and is now reaping the rewards of a diverse engineering workforce. “We are seeing many female engineers taking the management lead in traditional network roles as well as spearheading the renewables and demand management streams.”

The UQ Women in Engineering program will run collaborative workshops with universities across Australia and overseas, extending its reach to create change on a national level.