The number of girls signing up to study engineering at NZ universities has doubled in the last decade, and numbers are continuing to rise.
In the last nine years, the number of ladies in engineering lectures at the University of Auckland has climbed from 470 to over 900 in 2017. At the University of Canterbury, female engineering enrolments have similarly almost doubled in the last 10 years to more than 210 today.
Both institutions have dedicated programmes encouraging girls into the field, however much of the rise in numbers comes from the widening of how engineering is applied and the impact on society the dicipline can have.
Engineering has moved well beyond buildings and bridges, and today you can find engineers doing amazing things in healthcare to rocketry and even the environment, and just about everything inbetween.
Today girls can see really clear pathways based on engineering, and on being able to see how their study and work can make a difference.
Role models helping lead the way
As well as the growth of the applications of engineering (and all STEM subjects really), role models have played a significant part in helping grow the numbers of girls studying engineering.
There would be few better at showing the fun and practical sides of engineering than Dr Michelle Dickinson from Auckland University (pictured). A great science communicator, Michelle tours the country, visits schools, blogs and fronts tons of media while at the same time showing science can be smart, can solve problems, can be incredibly helpful to others and can even be fun.
Lots of room for change still
All the way back to primary school there are efforts underway to make what was a male dominated area like engineering more attractive to girls. Growing numbers of coding, robotics and science programmes being set up for girls are helping steer more females not just into studying engineering but also into roles in engineering linked trades.
Girls have plenty of room to grow their numbers in engineering before guys need be worried. Today just 1 in every 14 of the country’s Chartered Professional Engineers is female, and in fact just 13% of the country’s engineers are women. Watch these numbers change.
Heaps of room for girls in the IT sector (but maybe not as software engineers)