Could women be the solution to Australia’s infrastructure skills shortage?

Laing O’Rourke and the National Association of Women in Construction have partnered to empower women in the construction industry with the 2018 NSW NAWIC Mentoring Program.The Power of Engineering co-founder Felicity Furey is advising the sector that increasing the numbers of women in engineering could be the solution to Australia’s infrastructure boom skills shortage.

Today is World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development and Ms. Furey said increasing the number of female engineers could provide a huge boost to existing infrastructure projects and the maintenance backlog.

“Added to this, Australia’s population is predicted to grow to more than 30 million people in the next decade, so engineers are needed now more than ever to support Australia’s growing infrastructure needs,” Ms. Furey said.

The Australian census showed there are 186,000 engineers in Australia and 11 per cent of these are women.

Ms. Furey said that this shortage of women in engineering resulted in a lack of diversity of design – women aren’t considered in the design of these everyday inventions like cars, air conditioning, traffic planning, street lighting and adequate toilets.

“For example, the design of cars is less safe for women, and female drivers are 47 per cent more likely to be seriously injured in a car crash, all because women weren’t considered in the design of these everyday inventions,” she said.

It was this lack of diversity in engineering that motivated Ms. Furey to start Power in Engineering, a not-for-profit program designed to inspire thousands of young people to become engineers.

The organisation has reached more than 10,000 students across Australia through one day events and partnerships with industry and universities.

“To attract more girls, we are showing that engineering is fun and creative but can also improve the world and make people’s lives safer and easier,” Ms. Furey said.

She said World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development is a day to celebrate the contributions of engineers in the modern world.

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