Meg Panozzo

Innovation:
ConnectSTEM

Engineer, Arup; BE Hons (Civil), Monash University; Member of Engineers Australia; Chartered Engineer

ConnectSTEM takes a holistic approach.

ConnectSTEM is a group of passionate people from engineering company Arup driven to inspire, attract and retain women in engineering.

The group formed when Arup engineer Meg Panozzo CPEng put out a call at an International Women’s Day event in 2018 to help solve the gender imbalance in engineering.

“I’d seen a significant gap in ongoing, strategic thinking and holistic solutions to the gender imbalance of women in engineering, and I sought to address that,” she says.

“In Arup we needed a targeted, strategic method to reach the next generation of engineers while also creating a diverse and inclusive culture in our industry.”

ConnectSTEM uses education, collaborative partnerships, and storytelling to build community and celebrate the industry’s role models.

“Educational outreach with schools and universities is only part of the solution,” Panozzo says.

“We also need to address the social messaging given to girls from the day they are born and the concerning drop-out rates of women that begins at university level.”

“I’d seen a significant gap in ongoing, strategic thinking and holistic solutions to the gender imbalance of women in engineering, and I sought to address that."

Since its inception, the ConnectSTEM’s Sydney membership has grown to include more than 90 people. This year, the initiative will launch in offices around Australasia.

Uniquely, ConnectSTEM does not offer a sole solution for a single group of people. Instead, it takes a holistic overview of the whole career pipeline, which allows the group to identify intersections and develop initiatives that are aligned to its vision.

“ConnectSTEM aims to address these problems by providing a framework to collaborate and focus our energy on the solution,” Panozzo says.

“I want to truly shift the needle, so that our next generation of female engineers will not know what it’s like to have their gender placed in front of their occupation.”

Judges’ comments:

“The issue of participation of women in STEM is a perennial challenge to our profession, and one that has fl ow-on consequences for our society at large.

“The ConnectSTEM framework implemented within Arup is a positive initiative towards diversifying the STEM workforce. This has benefits for the community, the engineering profession and for Arup.”

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