On INWED, we continue to celebrate the outstanding achievements of women in engineering throughout the world and highlight their notable contributions to the profession. Engineering News spoke to five inventors and innovators working in engineering about the significance of the day and what it means to them.
Veena Sahajwalla HonFIEAust CPEng
Professor Veena Sahajwalla is an internationally recognised materials scientist, engineer, and inventor revolutionising recycling science. Veena says International Women in Engineering Day is significant because there are so many ways in which women have a major impact in the industry.
“To celebrate the impact that women in engineering have made, and will continue to make into the future, brings together our ability to celebrate what engineers do; which is do the science and the technology,” Veena says.
With only 12 per cent of the engineering workforce in Australia being women, Veena says we are “missing out” on the potential for better outcomes that can be harnessed with more diverse perspectives. “Women are passionate about how they can make lives better on this planet... To be able to harness that talent and that passion can only deliver better outcomes,” she says.
Dr Mariam Darestani
Dr Mariam Darestani is a material engineer passionate about the environment and focused on developing new materials and products for sustainable use of resources, especially water. Mariam says she chose to enter the field of chemical engineering because she saw other women in these specific fields. “It is important for female students to see women in engineering roles,” she says.
International Women in Engineering Day is a day for everyone, and Mariam says there are many “male champions of change out there”, acknowledging the male colleagues who have supported and inspired her. “I think that is really important too,” she says.
Madeleine Page has more than 7 years’ experience across the utilities, construction and engineering industries, and says International Women in Engineering Day is a great opportunity to think about how women in engineering can foster the creation of designs that represent everybody.
“Having women in engineering is so important,” she says, “but having this day will hopefully encourage future women to join the engineering industry and to be able to aspire to a career in engineering.”
When asked what she would say to young women considering a career in engineering, Madeleine says engineering is one of the most exciting careers you can choose! Due to the variety of industries in which engineers work, there are many options for women in engineering. From construction or manufacturing, to environmental, mechanical, and aerospace, Madeliene says “you have a range of different industries that are so interesting so no matter what interest you, you can choose a career path in engineering.”
Penny Stewart is a mining engineer, entrepreneur and founder of PETRA, a software company focused on extracting value from mining data. For Penny, International Women in Engineering Day is a “really good chance” to celebrate the varying career paths women in engineering have taken over the years. “It is a great opportunity to talk about what I have loved about being an engineer,” she added, “and what I am hoping is that by sharing those experiences it will encourage other women to see different career opportunities, and how their career may develop over time.”
For women considering a career in engineering, Penny touches on the changes she has seen throughout her career regarding supportive environments and flexibility. “The environment for women entering engineering is very receptive, and there is a very strong and supportive ecosystem around women.
“There is a lot more flexibility around the hours you work and where you work, and that is opening a more balanced quality of life that you can have through an engineering career,” she says.
Dr Dharmica Mistry
Dr Dharmica Mistry is a scientist and co-founder and ex-Chief Scientist of BCAL Diagnostics and previous Head of Medtech and Biotech at Australia’s pioneer deep tech incubator, Cicada Innovations. Dharmica says innovation and invention are important to her because they both allow engineers to try different things and keep learning and evolving.
With women being underrepresented in engineering roles, Dharmica believes it is important for young women to have role models and be able to see and hear from women about the impact they are having on the world through engineering disciplines.
Dharmica says for young women considering a career in STEM the opportunities are endless. “The ability to make a difference in this sector is real, because you can. I know that first hand, and that is a motivating and purposeful way to work.”
Find out more about women in engineering events happening in various locations.
- WiE site tour: Brisbane Transurban tunnel assets
- Gold Coast breakfast
- Sunshine Coast morning high tea
- Toowoomba morning tea
- Rockhampton breakfast
- Bundaberg evening panel
- Townsville breakfast
New South Wales