Today is International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), a day that celebrates the hard-working women of engineering all over the world. Engineering is a crucial STEM skill, and engineers provide the building blocks that allow companies to produce and extract the oil and gas that helps us live our modern life. The oil and gas sector could not thrive and survive without talented engineers.
Women represent a growing part of the important engineering workforce in Australia, although there is still a lot of room for growth. Information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the proportion of female engineers within Australia has more than doubled in the past 20 years, from 5% in 2000 to 12% in 2020.
Every year, the achievements of women in STEM are celebrated through the Superstars of STEM program organised by Science & Technology Australia (STA), boosting the public visibility of female engineers and inspiring future generations of women. In addition, organisations such as Engineers without Borders Australia are working hard to improve diversity and inclusion in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Organised by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), a long-lived UK institution dating back to 1919, INWED is an awareness campaign encouraging participants all over the world to get involved with activities (including virtual activities) that celebrate women engineers. This year marks INWED’s eighth anniversary, and the campaign is going from strength to strength, with more than 95 separate events registered last year.
Many activities were organised across the world this year, including in Australia, where Engineers Australia connected with women all over the world to spotlight their engineering achievements. In addition, the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) organised a lunch with speaker Else Shepherd, who in 1965 became the first woman to graduate with an Electrical Engineering degree in Queensland.