System Fix: Transforming recruitment andeducation of engineers by the experienceof WiE advocacy and experiment
BackgroundHow the question of women’s low participation in engineering education, in faculties and in the workforce is a legitimate subject with which to• engage engineering students and• build their capacity to participate and contribute to workplace reforms as future professionalsOpportunity for a ‘system approach’ to gender diversity in engineering• significant policy reforms by federal government;• diversity innovation in many companies and public sector organizations; and• action arising from commitments made by some universities
Policy developments towards gender equityNational Paid Parental LeaveRight to request flexible working conditions by parents of children under 5 and children under 16 with disabilitiesReform and increased funding of the Equal Opportunity in the Workplace Agency (EOWA)ASX Australian Stock Exchange Gender Diversity Reporting obligationsChallenge for University engineering facultiesStrategy to redress the participation by women at all levels for equity; workforce planning; academic leadership and national labour force
UTS Women in Engineering & ITRecognised for model of outreach, support and partnering with industry and professional and non-profit organisationsto communicate opportunities of engineering & IT as choices of study and career to girls and young women; to support students; to engage and exchange with organisations which share these objectivesGodfrey & King attribute an additional 5% of female enrolment to such initiatives and credit them with• Engaging women students in outreach, mentoring, peer support and leadership which builds confidence• (Being)major contributors to recruitment• Attracting diverse stakeholders who bring valuable resources to universities.• Should be sustainably funded, and ‘embedded’ in faculty culture and business (2011 p183).
Women in Engineering & IT Program (WiE&IT)• Hands on Days for Years 8-10 and 11 & 12• Lucy Mentoring in IT and engineering• SWIEIT Speakers• Year 8 Lab Days• Scholarships• Lunch meetings and seminars
Women in the engineering workforce and in academiaPoor retention in engineering workforce (<10%) (Mills et al 2008)Rate of women in engineering academia is low and virtually unchanged since 1995 (WISE cited in Bell 2009)King recommended the profession should address shortages by• addressing diversity in engineering workplaces supported by engineering education programs and• revitalising the best of the Women in Engineering Programs(2008 p.111)
OpportunityTo use current developments for systemic culture change in engineering education towards valuing and including women (Godfrey & King 2011 p189)and to transform aspects of structure, processes, work practices and mental models (ADVANCE Khare 2011)
Gender diversity ‘in practice’Practice Based Engineering UTS• Integrates two industry internships and with preview and review coursework subjects are recognized by the award of a Diploma of Engineering Practice.Taking system approach to diversity by gender in engineering, based on a mandate from government and with current research means there is an• opportunity to find sites in the curriculum in which to engage students about diversity in the workplace and the ‘business’ and equity case for reforms that will be of general benefit.
Gender Inclusive CurriculumMills, Ayre & Gill in Guidelines explain that this is grounded in aConstructivist model of learning in which it is understood to beInfluenced by prior experiences and involvesSocial activity which occurs through discussion and interactions where ways of thinking, of defining and solving problems and professional attributes and behaviours are modelled.and that curriculum involves choices not only about knowledge and theories students learn but about the language, problems and examples used; the design of teaching and learning activities; the learning environment and mode of delivery, assessment and more.(Mills, Ayer& Gill 2010 p1)www.altc.edu.au/system/files/news/Guidelines_for_the_design_of_inclusive_engineering_education_programs.pdf
Alternate experiencesFor a female engineering student …the lack of gender diversity in engineering would have been repeatedly flagged in her investigation of choices for study and careerIt is unlikely to have been raised as an important consideration for her fellow male students in their decision-making.This is a difference that can be exploited in teaching and learning by making gender diversity in the engineering course, and by field, and in the workforce generally, a subject of investigation and debate.This would contribute to capacity building for engineers required to demonstrate newly published Stage 1 Competency Standards
Knowledge and Skill Base: Professional EngineerCompetency 1.5 Knowledge of contextual factors impacting the engineering disciplineIndicators of attainment include:d) Identifies the structure, roles and capabilities of the engineering workforce, ande) Appreciates the issues associated with international engineering practices and global operating contextsCompetency 3.6 Effective Team Member and team leadershipIndicators of attainment include:a) Understand the fundamentals of team dynamics and leadershipb) Functions as an effective team member or leader of diverse teams, including those with multi-level, multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural dimensions (Engineers Australia 2011)
Mandate for WISE actionGender Inclusive CurriculumPromoted as a measure for increasing the recruitment and retention of women by Godfrey & King 2011 andEndorsed by the Vice-Chancellors of the ATN universities as one of five recommended actions arising from the national Women in Science and Engineering Summit this year.
ATN VC’s WISE Recommendations 1. The ATN work with a committee, that includes a Faculty Head/Dean and a senior female academic in STE, from each university to address:a. Greater focus on girls participation in the pathways provided into maths, science and engineering study;b. Sharing lessons and experiences in the recruitment and retention of female students in STE and investigating the development of some national programs across the ATN based on best practice at individual universities;c. Reviewing with Faculty Heads/Deans the number of female academics in science, engineering and technology, with those targets to meet or exceed at all academic levels the proportion of women employed across STE industries in Australia;d. Ensuring STE classes are conducive to women’s participation including through adoption of gender inclusive curriculum in engineering 2. The ATN adopt the UN ‘Women’s Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business’ and that universities also individually consider their adoption
OutlookPolicy developments give rise to the opportunity for a system approach in engineering faculties to redress the low participation of women at all levels.Conditional on leadership and resourcesGuidance by recommendations on women in engineering by Godfrey & King and draw on the work of Mills, Ayre & Gill on gender inclusive curriculum to engage male as well as female students on gender diversityIn this way students can value new diversity initiatives in their faculty and graduate with an increased literacy in diversity and equal opportunity and be able to take an active role in making their organizations more diverse, more inclusive and thereby more productive and better places to work.
Thanks!and to WIE&IT team: Laura Waibel, Karen Belistaand to Amy BurrowsProgram Dir Women in Engineering & IT,Lecturer, School of Systems, Management & LeadershipFaculty of Engineering & ITUniversity of Technology, Sydneytel: +61 2 9514 2601fax: +61 2 9514 email@example.com
ReferencesBell, S. (2009) Women in Science in Australia: Maximising Productivity, Diversity and Innovation, FASTSGodfrey, E. and King, R. (2011) Curriculum specification and support for engineering education: understanding attrition, academic support, revised competencies, pathways and access, UTS, ALTC Viewed 13 July 2011http://www.altc.edu.au/resource-engineering-qualification-curriculum-uts-2011King, R. (2008) Addressing the supply and quality of engineering graduates, ALTC .Viewed 13 July 2011http://www.altc.edu.au/resource-addressing-supply-quality-engineering-graduates-uts-2008Mills, J., Mehrtens, V., Smith, E., Adams, V., 2008 CREW Revisited in 2007 The Year of Women in Engineering, An update on women’s progress in the Australian engineering workforce. CanberraMills, J., Ayre, M. and Gill, J. (2010) Gender Inclusive Curriculum in Engineering, RoutledgeMills, J., Ayre, M. and Gill, J. (2010) Guidelines for the design of inclusive engineering education programs, ALTCwww.altc.edu.au/system/files/news/Guidelines_for_the_design_of_inclusive_engineering_education_programs.pdfPayne, A-M.(ed.) (2004) Women in Non-traditional Fields at UTS, UTS Equity & Diversity UnitPond, S. and Holland, B. (2010) Australia needs women in the corner offices, FOCUS, FASTS , December pp26-28Ross-Smith, A. (2009) Review of UTS Gender Strategy, UTS Equity & Diversity UnitShoemark, L. (2007) The Gender Jigsaw: Participation in non-traditional fields of study. UTS Sydney