Engineering a great future for young Australian women

offering excellent career prospects, engineering remains one of the most
imbalanced professions in Australia when it comes to the gender mix, with women
only making up 9.6 percent of the total number of engineers nationally.

But in a
time when the disparity in wages between men and women working in similar roles
remains an issue across a variety of professions, engineering offers attractive
salaries above the national average, regardless of gender.

So why do so
few women see it as a viable career option?

In my
experience, one of the key reasons is that the industry at large suffers from a
perception issue. Because it is a male dominated profession, engineering is
sometimes perceived as being inaccessible to women. This impacts the number of women
choosing subjects at school and uni, those that would provide a gateway for
them into the profession.

As one of
the country’s largest employers of engineers, Honeywell is determined to
address this issue and dispel the notion that engineering is a male preserve, through
various initiatives including our upcoming 2014 Engineering Summer School,
running this month and organised in partnership with Engineers Australia.

The program
is designed to provide insight into the diverse range of career options
available to both sexes in the engineering profession, so students can then
choose the most appropriate subjects and courses that will help them achieve
their desired role in the profession.

lectures and demonstrations at a number of Sydney universities, as well as industry
site visits throughout the week, students gain exposure to various engineering
disciplines, helping them to make more informed decisions about a future in the

Most students know that
discussing options with their teachers and parents is an important part of
career planning, as their advice can often play a determining role. As an
addition to this, giving students the chance to interact with both industry and
academia can help to inspire the next generation of engineers.

But while encouraging students to
study these courses is important, what are companies also doing to ensure women
have a place within their workforce?

For Honeywell, strong female
representation within our engineering team, and company as a whole, is very
important to us. That’s why we created the Women’s Information Network (WIN) at
Honeywell, which serves as a catalyst to provide encouragement, empowerment and
professional development to all of our female employees.

As head of our WIN team for
Australia and New Zealand, part of my remit is to provide career support to our
female engineers. This includes ensuring they are aware of, and have full
access to the same opportunities for career development as their male

A shining example of how a
nurturing and supportive environment benefits our female engineers is Anh
Trung, one of our Sydney based engineers.

Anh studied
mechatronic engineering at the University of Sydney and joined Honeywell in
2009, the year after she graduated, where she continues to work as an engineer
in our product development division.

While there were only five girls
in Anh’s intake of 40 students, most of them were around the top of their
class, which illustrates the value of attracting more talented women to the

The key to Anh successfully
graduating as an engineer is that she never at any stage considered her gender
as an obstacle, and certainly had no intention of letting it get in the way of
studying something that she was interested in.

Anh’s role at Honeywell offers a
great deal of variety. As well as working in the product development team, she
also works in software development, managing technical projects, collaborating with
fellow Honeywell engineers and engineers from other companies, and writing
product specifications and product manuals.

Anh and her other female
engineering colleagues are a positive example of the work Honeywell has done so
far, but we and the industry at large have a long way to go.

A recent Australian
study analysed year 12 participation in science and maths classes, finding that
despite there being 38,000 more year 12 students in 2012 than in 1992 (an
increase of 16 percent), the proportion of those students choosing chemistry,
physics, biology and advanced mathematics has decreased dramatically over the
same period.

Australian National Engineering Taskforce (ANET) says this has led to a drastic
shortfall in the amount of suitable graduates being produced annually in
Australia, numbering around 6000, when the industry requires a graduate intake
of around twice that figure every year. The
enrolment rate for women in engineering degree courses in Australia has
remained consistently low since the early 1990s, hovering around the 14 percent

While the
benefits of joining the engineering industry are apparent for women (and men
for that matter) – industry demand outstripping supply, higher wages, increased
job security, etc., there are also considerable benefits for the industry in
having more women involved in it.

engineers can bring different perspectives to the profession, enabling project
teams to more readily come up with creative solutions that better address
society’s needs as a whole, as well as the particular needs of women. After
all, women comprise over 50 percent of Australia’s population!

By bringing
more female engineers on board, companies can instantly gain a better
understanding of their customers’ needs and compete more effectively in the
marketplace. That is something that we are always striving for, as should the
industry as a whole.

Honeywell Building Solutions

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