Engineers Australia wants 30 per cent of members to be women
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Engineers Australia wants 30 per cent of members to be women

Engineering student Emily Campbell welcomes a renewed push to see more women in the male-dominated profession.

Engineers Australia recently announced a target to have women making-up 30 per cent of its 100,000 member organisation by 2020, including board members, managers, staff and volunteers.

Engineering student Emily Campbell has welcomed a push to attract more women into the historically male-dominated profession.

Engineering student Emily Campbell has welcomed a push to attract more women into the historically male-dominated profession.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

New statistics compiled by the peak industry body showed women currently accounted for just 12 per cent of Australia's engineering workforce.

Across the three industries employing the most engineers - design, manufacturing and construction - the national pay gap favours men by as much as 22 per cent.

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Ms Campbell, 23, an engineering and arts student at the Australian National University, said part of the problem was the historical perception of engineering as a man's job.

"It is a complex issue, but I think a lot of it does come down to the way we are socialised. Engineering has a bit of an image problem," she said.

"I think there are a lot of really great ideas out there to make sure have a diverse and inclusive workforce, but there's not a lot of cohesion about these things."

Engineers Australia board member Trish White said the industry needed to get better at attracting and retaining women.

"The first issue is that there is a lack of girls studying the required maths and science to become engineers in the first place," she said.

"Then we have the problem of the number of graduates that actually go into the workforce.

"We also have an issue with the number of women who remain in the profession as leaders."

Ms White worked as an engineer in the transport and communications industries before joining the Defence Science Technology Organisation and then entering the South Australian parliament.

She said engineering had come a long way since she first started in the industry, but there was still a fair bit of work to do.

"Workplaces today are much improved on when I started and had to deal with the open taunts and the open discrimination," she said.

"But, what still exists is a significant gender pay gap and a lot of workplaces lack access to flexible working arrangements, and there are still few women in senior leadership roles."

Steven Trask is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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