Dear Colleagues,

We celebrate International Women in Engineering Day on Tuesday 23 June 2020. The theme this year is #ShapeTheWorld.

In Australia, about 15% of domestic undergraduate Engineering students are women. Up until now, Australia has relied on skilled migration to fill about half of the demand for Engineers, but migration is now severely curtailed due to COVID-19. We must encourage our government to provide more funding for Engineering education and ensure more women enter our industry.

 

We are responsible for who we hire

At Monash Engineering, we practice gender-balanced shortlists. We do not progress to interview until we have an equal number of highly qualified and eminently hireable female and male candidates. The results speak for themselves: last year, almost half our new T&R academic hires were female.

 

We are responsible for who we teach

Twenty-four per cent of our domestic undergraduate students identify as women this semester. This is much higher than the national average, and better than where we were 5 years ago (20%), but it is not good enough. Monash Engineering is committed to achieving gender balance, acknowledging that this will take continued, concerted effort from all our community.

We acknowledge the barriers to participation that girls face before they choose their university preferences. We know numerous studies have shown that girls are excluded from STEM toys, activities and conversations. Young women experience these barriers in their homes and in their schools and in the media. We collaborate with partners in Engineering and Education to improve gender equity because we know that we can not fix these barriers by ourselves.

Our students are committed to #ChangeIt for good. Our student clubs and teams are supported to run meaningful outreach activities to spread engineering awareness and enthusiasm to primary and high school students. We know how much these activities matter, particularly for girls.

 

We are responsible for our leaders

Monash Engineering values strong collaboration with industry, and these relationships are central to both our education and research. The Dean’s Advisory Council provides independent strategic guidance and experience to support our ambitious goals and strategic plan. Similar advisory boards within each of our Departments provide specific advice to each of our major disciplines.

Our advisory members share their perspective and understanding of how we can meet the needs of society through our academic endeavours. Therefore, it is a priority for our council and board members to reflect the diversity of our society, including an appropriate gender balance. We are proud to report that the gender balance of our councils and boards is now 31%, up from 23% twelve months ago. Our faculty aims to reach at least 40% on all of our external advisory boards over the next 12 months.

 

We are responsible

As one of the leading Engineering Faculties in Australia, we take responsibility for advancing gender equity in our industry. Our Departmental Diversity and Inclusion committees meet regularly to review our progress across a range of equity measures, including recruitment, workforce, education, research, leadership and training & development.

Our academics have demonstrated commitment to examine and challenge their own bias. Half of our academics have voluntarily completed Inclusive Leadership training, which explores how unconscious bias impacts our decision making. In addition, in the last 12 months we have doubled the number of academic staff who have completed ‘Staff Selection Excellence Training’, designed to ensure that all recruitment activity is fair and equitable.

 

Engineers #ShapeTheWorld

Engineers do shape our world. Our response to COVID-19 has evidenced this: all branches of Engineering have responded: tracking and analysing data on the impact of COVID-19 on Melbourne; building and modifying respirators; making public spaces safe; developing new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); testing for infection and antibodies - and much more. We take responsibility to ensure women are included in shaping the our future.

 

Best regards,

Professor Elizabeth Croft
Dean of Engineering, Monash University