Meet some of the stars of our team.
International Women's Day was celebrated last week and in our chats around the office, I was reflecting upon how impressive it is that we have three very passionate engineers in our team that have defied the trend in a predominantly male profession. In my first year of Mechanical Engineering studies at RMIT in 1983 we had 2 female students in our class of 120 students. Surely the gender representation has changed since then? It has improved a little in the last 33 years, but we still have a long way to go. I thought it would be good for the new generation of women engineers to share what it was that inspired them to a career in design engineering. I love the passion and openness of their responses. Mark Bayly.
When I was a child I loved lego and building things. Having a brother was great since he always received the "boy" gifts and that meant we could build my dolls personalised houses out of lego or cars out of meccano.
I didn't really think much of this when I was a child, but playing with toys like this really builds creative, inquisitive minds. We are both engineers today.
When I was in high school my physics lecturer invited me to join an extracurricular group that was designing a model solar car to race at Scienceworks at the end of the year. I was fascinated. All the building I loved as a kid came back to me and before long we were designing, building and testing model cars to race. Race days kept you on your toes as changes were often needed at the last minute if the weather changed or crashes occurred. It was so much fun and I loved the challenge.
I joined the school team from year 9 to year 12 and remained on the Victorian model solar vehicle committee during university. When I was looking at my study options after high school I knew I wanted to do something creative yet keep all the maths and physics smarts that I had developed. It definitely helped that the Swinburne Product Design Engineering degree combined both the creative and technical.
I think the love for engineering began well before I even knew what engineering was! I always thank that physics teacher that dragged me over to the solar car room one lunch time for helping me on my way.
Why did I become an engineer? Because I wanted to and no-one told me I couldn’t.
Whether it’s because it makes someone’s life easier, it functions efficiently, is better for the environment than other products or just looks really, really good, to me there is nothing better than appreciating the design of a product. I’m constantly chasing this type of rewarding user experience when designing, and my engineering skills help me achieve it.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a supportive and encouraging environment where anything was possible and life was what you made it. It was only later that I encountered the realities of studying engineering and working in an industry where women are a minority.
At high school I loved art, design, maths and physics. An honest self-assessment of my natural talents suggested that I probably wouldn’t be able to pay rent as an artist so I decided to focus on becoming an engineer. I moved to the city, enrolled myself in Product Design Engineering at Swinburne University and now i’m with Bayly Group as a Design Engineer.
50% of the engineers at Bayly Group are women. Compared to the proportion of women in engineering at university and in other companies in the industry, this is incredible.
I think being a women in engineering is only going to get easier. Last year I attended the annual Connecting Women in Biotechnology Luncheon hosted by the BioMelbourne Network. It was really inspiring talking to peers and hearing senior women speak about their achievements and industry changes over the last couple of decades. I hope that in the future we will see not only 50% women in engineering roles but 50% women in executive roles as well.
To women considering a career as an engineer, I say do it. Be bold.
As a female mechanical engineer (one of 4 in a course of 175), I've been asked this question a LOT. My answer: I see engineering as an exciting tool to help the world - And that’s where I want to be. I see our technological advances making a difference to the environment, to medicine, and particularly, to people's quality of life (and so much more) and I feel drawn to be part of it. Being able to apply myself to this work as an engineer appeals not only to my problem solving self, but also to the nurturer and the creative soul within me. And it is FUN and rewarding.
My first role as an engineer had me designing wheelchair components. It felt fantastic to know the products I was designing were making life easier for people with disabilities. In my new role with Bayly Group I am fortunate enough to be learning from some incredibly talented engineers, (half of them, also women) designing extremely diverse products each day.
Women can have a capacity to empathise with the problems faced by other people in a unique way. I think this leads to us bringing something different to the solving of those problems; something neither more, nor less important than what men bring, but something which is missing when we are absent.
Teachers, parents: encourage your girls to be tomorrow’s problem solvers, and open their eyes to ALL the ways they can do that. Women do a great job solving problems as educators, advocates, healers, nurturers (and so much more). We ALSO do a great job being creative and solving problems as engineers – and it is in this field that women’s voices are still underrepresented, which means our world is missing out on so many of the unique solutions we could be offering it.
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