It is no secret that women are underrepresented in the engineering industry, with females accounting for just 12% of engineers working in Australia – and those women who do choose a career in engineering are paid an average of 11% less than their male counterparts.
Earlier this year Professional Australia’s 2018 Women in STEM Survey identified the main issues facing professional women in the STEM workforce – some of the key findings of the report were:
- A gap between policy and implementation – 35.7% of respondents said they did not believe the employer had strategies in place to implement policies relating to diversity and discrimination
- Career disruption – 68.5 per cent of survey respondents said taking maternity leave had been detrimental to their career
- Career penalty attached to working part-time – 48.0 per cent said they believed working part-time had negatively impacted their career
- Gender pay gap – 32.2 per cent of respondents did not believe they received equal compensation for work of equal value
- Women’s economic security – 50.9 per cent of respondents said a career break had seriously reduced their retirement savings
- Bias in career building activities – 23.5 per cent said they were unnecessarily prevented from undertaking training and professional development due to working part-time
- Unconscious bias in decision-making and recruitment – 43.1 per cent said unconscious bias was embedded in their organisation’s decision-making processes. 45.2 per cent said unconscious bias was embedded in their organisation’s recruitment practices
- Gender based discrimination – 51.3 per cent reported having been directly discriminated against on the basis of gender during the course of their employment
The report shows that the gender pay gap and poor workplace environments are driving young women away from engineering at a time when Australian engineering needs the best and brightest.
While workplaces may have policies in place to support diversity, they often do not have the strategies, workplace culture and management accountabilities in place to give effect to the policies. Putting proper strategies in place to address progression, attrition and retention issues for women in engineering should be a priority for businesses and government agencies.
Professionals Australia and the LGEA are committed to ensuring the issues detailed in this report are addressed effectively by employers. If you are a woman working in engineering and are passionate about seeing a more balanced industry, we are currently looking for volunteers for our Women’s Reference Group. The group will provide valuable insights and experiences of being a woman in engineering to help us gather the information needed to improve the gender balance in the industry.
If you are interested in being part of the group, please email MBuchanan@professionalsaustralia.org.au.