March 11th • 3 min read
#Change #People #Gender equality #Leadership

STEM is Hurting for Female Participation

Engineering defines and designs our future. In fact, engineers have completed transformed the world we live in. They’ve driven modern advances in technology, work, home, communications, space, and many more. Engineers power the carousel of progress and the fuel is innovation. An important aspect of thinking outside the box is ensuring there is adequate diversity. But this is a sore spot for engineering.
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Specifically, gender diversity is a serious issue in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mechanical). In Australia, we have only 12% of women in engineering while Europe has 35%. But more than 50% of graduates globally are women, so why is there a shortage of females in these tracks? As an agile workforce solutions company, we see the lack of women in engineering professions firsthand.


Yet research shows that a diverse team achieves better outcomes because they bring fresh ideas and challenge each other. Thinking differently is the key to shaping a future that can meet the needs of a world with both genders. Plus, gender equality is linked to better productivity, performance, growth, reputation, and the ability to attract and retain talent.


So when we find a woman working in these traditional male-dominated industries, we’re proud to share her story. Meet Lucie Nguyen, Supply Chain Specialist for a mining equipment company. Being a woman in a man’s world is a bold choice. And since we’re excited to boost female participation in engineering, we asked her to share her perspective on some hot topics to inspire other women.


Q// Why do you think so few women choose to study STEM subjects?

“I think it comes down to gender bias,” Lucie shared. According to a UNESCO report, only 35% of STEM students in higher education are women. The idea of choosing to spend your days with 90% men, is not a natural choice. Frankly, it can seem intimidating. But that didn’t stop Lucie, who was thrilled to study engineering regardless. “I’ve always had a passion for numbers, and am a bit of an organisational ninja. Pursuing a career in a technical industry was always my dream. Plus, I know that technical ability is not defined by gender,” stated Lucie.


Q// What do you think will attract more women to STEM careers?

“This is an easy one. More female leadership,” Lucie uttered effortlessly. With the overwhelming majority of male workers, it’s logical that you’re going to find the top also filled with men. Based on her own experience, Lucie is determined to encourage women as managers in engineering. “Women need to lead by example and show junior staff that there are ample career progress options for women in technical fields,” adds Lucie. Just like in any other sector soft skills matter more than you think and make women even better suited to managerial roles. “After all, leadership is about how you coach, inspire, and encourage your team to achieve excellence. It has nothing to do with gender,” Lucie exclaimed.


Q// What do you think the biggest obstacle for women in engineering is today?

“Concerns about motherhood impacting your career negatively,” Lucie confessed. Given the extremely low number of female team members, maternity leave can be a sensitive subject with a low level of maturity. “Although the government mandates leave entitlements, making sure taking a few months off doesn’t make you seem less competent, focused, capable, or promotable is the unspoken fear,” states Lucie. Although parental leave even for fathers is becoming more common, it’s still rare in the engineering world today. And without many women in their teams, it’s easy to understand why a lack of experience seeing.


So when we asked Lucie how the journey at school and in her career has been so far as one of the few females, she surprised us. “Having been a 26-year-old women leading a department essentially made of male staff is a great source of pride,” she confides. And there you have it. Finding success when things are harder is especially rewarding.


The science is clear. Women are just as capable as men intellectually and we all need to do our part to eradicate society’s gender norms that discourage women from joining the STEM world. Lucie’s advice for all young women out there, “Go for it, we're strong! Dare to be different and change the future. Dare to do what people think you can’t do. Study engineering, join the boys club, become a manager, and lift other women up as you climb high.”

Manon Capitaine

Email + Marketing Operations Specialist

Technical native with ninja-like project management skills. She drives technology like she built it and specialises in smoothing out the digital experience. Disorganisation is her nemesis. A beer aficionado, she can be found brewing (and sampling) craft beers.

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