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Being a champion for diversity

Tomorrow, Saturday 23 June, is International Women in Engineering Day – a day in which we hope to raise the profile of women in our industry and the exciting engineering career opportunities available to young girls. 

This year’s theme is ‘Raising the Bar’ and a program which personifies this is the Property Council of Australia’s (PCA) 500 Women in Property (WIP).

The program involves a personal commitment from Property Council members to champion women in their organisation who they believe would benefit from further networking and professional development opportunities.

It is the first year the program has been extended to 500 women, and Wood & Grieve Engineers (WGE) has five individuals involved in 2018 being mentored respectively by director Grant Holman, Sustainability Section Manager Nicholas Johnson and Hydraulics Project Engineer Ben James.

Telecommunications engineer Julia Curtain is one of those five women, who says the 500 WIP program has already provided plenty of opportunities at the halfway point of the year.

“I signed up for the program as I feel diversity, any kind of diversity, should be a priority in the workplace.  But also on a personal level, it would be a good opportunity to network and learn from other women in the industry,” Julia said.

“By making connections and fostering those relationships, I hope to help other women by passing on their teachings.

“There’s also a real benefit of having your sponsor in the room with you while having those discussions about diversity, work/life balance and how we can improve that situation for women in engineering.  By taking that conversation out of the office and into a social setting, it creates a really positive environment.”

Julia said that sometimes discussions on diversity can have little impact despite the best intentions, but by virtue of Grant’s involvement as her sponsor, the scope for change is far greater.

“It’s really great for someone of Grant’s stature – a company director – being a champion for women in the workplace,” Julia said.

“Not only is he a manager, but as a director he can have a greater influence in the company’s direction.  Grant has been incredibly supportive and present throughout the program and, of course, in the office.

“There have been some great initiatives for encouraging women’s involvement in our industry, including the 500 WIP program, and hopefully with Grant’s involvement we will see WGE become an industry leader in developing new ways to encourage women’s contribution to engineering.”

Staring down at the second half of 2018, Julia is looking forward to attending more program events including PCA committee meetings where she “hopes to better understand what they do and how I can get involved.”

But she’s also hoping to equip herself with more tools to help her fellow women in the workplace and continue to be a champion for diversity.

“I’m hoping to make good contacts within the industry so that I can talk to different women about how they handle different situations, so I can pass on that support to others and help them with their careers,” Julia said.

“But what I’m most looking forward to is seeing positive change within our industry and within WGE, so that women all across the world feel valued and empowered.”

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