Supporting young women in STEM careers
Friday, 8 March 2019
The University of Adelaide and SA Water have announced an important partnership to support career and development opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), coinciding with the 108th anniversary of the first International Women’s Day celebrations.
SA Water will sponsor the University’s 2019 Women in STEM Careers Program, helping around 100 female STEM students engage in workshops throughout the year focussing on leadership, career development and entrepreneurship.
University of Adelaide student Emily Hack, studying for a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Structure) with a Bachelor of Sciences, took part in the program in 2017.
“Prior to participating in the Women in STEM Careers (WiSC) program in 2017, I was having doubts as to whether engineering was for me,’’ Ms Hack said.
“I wasn’t the top of any classes, and had no prior experience and couldn’t see why any company would want to take me on for 12 weeks, so I applied to WiSC hoping I would be able to learn a few skills that would help me write a good resume.
“I gained so much more than an incredible resume. The program focused equally on professional skills (networking and resume writing) as it did on personal development (exploring and articulating our strengths and confidence building workshops).
“This personal development changed my entire perspective on myself and my future career in engineering. Not only do I know what unique strengths I bring to the table, I have the confidence to articulate the worth I bring to projects I am on, both at university and in the workplace.”
The program led to Ms Hack taking a summer placement in SA Water’s Water Assets team.
“I enjoyed my 12-week placement so much that I asked if I could work part-time during the rest of my studies, something I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do before the WiSC program, and was warmly welcomed to the team as undergraduate engineer,’’ she said.
“That was over 12 months ago, and every day I still get the same excitement knowing that I am helping to provide a service to state in an inclusive and supportive workplace, while I finish off my undergraduate studies.”
The University of Adelaide’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Pascale Quester said strong industry support for the program has underlined its relevance to potential employers.
“Since it began, 175 female students have benefitted from the University’s Women in STEM Careers Program,’’ she said.
“They have been challenged to lay a foundation upon which they can build their careers in STEM, and they have risen to that challenge, with many of our students reporting marked improvements in confidence and resilience.
“The University of Adelaide has a long history of commitment to gender equity - we were the first university in Australia and only the second in the world to admit women to academic programs.
“Today, we continue this commitment with participation in a range of initiatives aimed at promoting and enhancing women’s involvement in STEM education and careers.”
SA Water’s General Manager of Customer Delivery Kerry Rowlands said the corporation is excited to be involved with one of the largest leadership programs for female STEM students in Australia.
“STEM is an area traditionally seen as under-represented by women in the workforce, and we’re excited to be major sponsor of the University’s 2019 program to help participants build their confidence and increase their employability,” Ms Rowlands said.
“We’ve set an ambitious target on the number of female graduates joining our business to reach at least 60 per cent by 2024, and with currently over half of our STEM Graduates and 43 per cent of total graduates being female, we know this goal is certainly within reach.
“This is on-top of our other measures taken to achieve gender parity in the workforce, with SA Water achieving a zero per cent gender pay gap in 2017 compared to the then-national average of 15.3 per cent.
“While we join other businesses around the world today in celebrating International Women’s Day, we recognise the importance of continuing to work every day to improve the gender balance in our corporation and wider society.”
With the 2019 theme of #BalanceforBetter, International Women’s Day is an annual global event celebrating the social, cultural and political achievements of women across the world while also making a call to action for gender parity in the workplace.
Photo: Engineering and Science student Emily Hack.