Where are the girls and why aren’t they in engineering and IT?

It has been said that if the cure for cancer is in the mind of a girl in secondary school, the odds are that it will not be found. Young...

It has been said that if the cure for cancer is in the mind of a girl in secondary school, the odds are that it will not be found.

Young girls lose interest in maths and science early and majority of those who remain interested in these subjects have shied away from pursuing study and a career in engineering and information technology (IT).

EngenuITy, a joint event to be hosted by the Faculties of Engineering and Information Technology this week, will give more than 50 high-achieving Year 10 girls an opportunity to get their hands on technology, discover the world of engineers and techies, and meet women in engineering and IT.

Associate Professor Karen Hapgood, Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, said that while women from all cultures and walks of life excel at engineering, it still remains a largely male-dominated field. 

“The challenge today is not just about encouraging women to study engineering, it is also about supporting them within the engineering workplace. Changing attitudes and stereotypes about traditional gendered occupations are just as important as removing gender inequalities in universities,” Associate Professor Hapgood said. 

In the IT field, while many young girls enjoy using its applications in the early years of secondary education, smaller numbers go on to study and take up employment opportunities within the industry. 

“Through EngenuITy and other initiatives at Monash, we aim to challenge this image and open the girls’ minds to the possibility of pursuing a career in IT, engineering, or at the interface of the disciplines,” Associate Professor Hapgood said. 

A line-up of hands-on activities will expose the girls to the different fields of engineering and will challenge them to develop an app. An important part of the day will be a speed networking session with alumnae working in industry, women researchers and current students to show the girls the diverse experiences and career paths in engineering and IT.