Brought to you by
Dr Bronwyn Evans
There are 45,000 women with engineering qualifications in Australia, and 25,000 currently working as professional engineers.
I recently had the privilege to meet 10 of them – the wonderful women and emerging leaders in engineering featured here.
When we met, the conversation was wide-ranging, but a common theme was the importance of organisational culture.
When it comes to women in engineering, the conversation has moved over the years. First, it was all about ‘fixing women’ – we just had to be more like the men in the industry! Then it was about ‘fixing policy’.
Now, focus has turned to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. That diversity is not just about women, but people of all backgrounds, ages and sexual orientations.
Engineers Australia has recently broadened its diversity and inclusion focus with the establishment of our Indigenous Engineers Group, our partnership with Pride in Diversity and our support of a new and just-launched independent group called InterEngineer that will promote LGBTQI+ inclusion.
Changing culture is a challenge. It requires leadership from the top and commitment at all levels of an organisation, as well as persistence and focus.
It is worth the effort! It’s the right and fair thing to do. It helps to deliver better solutions for the community by drawing on a diverse range of perspectives and experiences that reflect the communities we serve. And it delivers better business outcomes.
A study by McKinsey & Company of more than 1000 companies in 12 countries found those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 21 per cent more likely to experience above-average profitability than those in the bottom quartile – and, for cultural and ethnic diversity, the margin was 33 per cent.
Closer to home, BHP recently put out research showing their most diverse and inclusive teams have 67 per cent fewer recordable injuries, 28 per cent fewer unplanned absences, and up to 11 per cent higher planned and scheduled work delivery.
Diversity must be paired with inclusion if organisations are to change. Otherwise, you end up hiring people who are different, then losing them because they don’t ‘fit in’.
An inclusive workplace is one where all people are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal opportunities and can contribute fully – with their diversity embraced and encouraged.
Engineers Australia has a program of activity to promote gender diversity that includes International Women’s Day events, targeted STEM engagement in schools, research on the female career experience, Women in Engineering groups, collaborations, women as event speakers and panelists, and our Gender Diversity Awards program (nominations are currently open).
As the saying goes, you can’t be what you can’t see, and features like this one help to shine a light on engineering role models.
Engineers Australia aspires to an engineering profession that is as diverse as the community it serves – and we back that aspiration with action.
Dr Bronwyn Evans
CEO, Engineers Australia