System thinking: How universities can boost the retention of a higher proportion of women engineers in the engineering workforce

Publisher:
Engineers Australia
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Citation:
Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Conference for the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, 2011, pp. 196 - 202
Issue Date:
2011-01
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Ascertaining ways in which higher education institutions could assist in the retention of a higher proportion of women engineers in the workforce was the focus of one strand of a recently completed project supported by the Australian Council of Engineering Deans. The project was addressing shortages in the engineering workforce by investigating curriculum design and support systems that could attract and retrain people from under-represented and non-traditional backgrounds. Consultation with key informants from industry, academia and members and ex-chairs of the Engineers Australia National Committee for Women in Engineering emphasised that the major barrier to women continuing in the workforce lay with workplace culture, lack of access to flexible work conditions and lack of career path. Although it appeared that educational strategies were initially considered of minor importance, a second cycle of discussion widening the circle of informants, elicited seven recommendations focusing on: the wider provision of flexible short courses, employer and higher education funding for part-time study, opportunities for women to work part-time in engineering faculties as well as the importance of culture change within many engineering workplaces including academia.
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