Increasing the numbers of women in engineering could be the solution to Australia’s infrastructure boom skills shortage.
This is the advice from Power of Engineering co-founder Felicity Furey on World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development.
“If we increase the number of female engineers, we will play a large role in filling the pipeline of engineers to fill the $200 billion infrastructure boom in Australia and provide a huge boost to the existing infrastructure and a maintenance backlog.
“Added to this, Australia’s population is predicted to grow to more than 30 million people in the next decade, so engineers are needed now more than ever to support Australia’s growing infrastructure needs.
According to the 2016 census, there are 186,000 engineers in Australia and 11 per cent of these are women. More engineers come from overseas than are local Australians – of the Australian engineers, just 8.8 per cent are women.
Felicity said that this shortage of women in engineering resulted in a lack of diversity of design – women aren’t considered in the design of these everyday inventions like cars, air conditioning, traffic planning, street lighting and adequate toilets.
“Almost 90% of the world is designed by men because of the lack of women in engineering and STEM. As a result, women are disadvantaged, have more health problems, and are even less safe.
“For example, the design of cars is less safe for women, and female drivers are 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a car crash – all because women weren’t considered in the design of these everyday inventions,” Felicity said.
“By engaging girls in engineering, we can shift this and create a world that works for everyone.
“Locally, there so much more we can be doing a lot more to promote engineering to Australian women,” Felicity said.
It was this lack of diversity in engineering that motivated Felicity to start Power in Engineering, a not-for-profit program designed to inspire thousands of young people to become engineers.
“To attract more girls, we are showing that engineering is fun and creative but can also improve the world and make people’s lives safer and easier.”
Felicity is committed to shaping a diverse engineering workforce, and her organisation has reached more than 10,000 students across Australia through one day events and partnerships with industry and universities.
Felicity’s said that World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development is a day to celebrate the contributions of engineers in our modern world.
According to Felicity, Engineers use maths and science to solve real world problems.
“Engineers are scientists, inventors, designers, builders and creative thinkers.
Engineers contribute to many essential services that most Australians can’t possibly imagine living without – energy, telecommunications, transport, hospitals, schools and parks. Even access to fresh food and water.”
Useful resources for parents and students:
The STARportal makes the connections to STEM learning activities that inspire young people to explore, discover, and create. It is Australia’s first centralised national portal for exciting and engaging STEM activities from around the country. This searchable database connects parents, students and teachers with their local and online STEM activities in real time.
Engineering is Elementary
Engineering is Elementary is coming to Australia! The program, focusing on building the skills and confidence of primary school teachers through professional development workshops, has been adapted by Questacon to align with the Australian Curriculum and meet the needs of Australian teachers. Over the course of the three-year partnership, workshops will be delivered in all Australian states and territories.
Powering of Engineering
Power of Engineering is shaping a diverse engineering workforce through practical and creative experiences. They do this by running one-day events for Year 9 and 10 high school students (prior to subject selection) demonstrating that they have the power to change the world through engineering, in collaboration with universities and industry.