The future for engineering looks brighter as Rio Tinto and The University of Western Australia's Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics launch a new "Girls in Engineering" program next Tuesday 18 November.
The joint initiative, which is a part of Rio Tinto's and UWA's long-term education partnerships program, aims to engage secondary school girls in the world of science and engineering and inspire them to consider engineering as a career path.
At the launch, more than 75 school girls will be challenged to solve a variety of engineering puzzles from Rubik's Cube contests through to the development of a water purification device for a poor country with limited resources.
The Girls in Engineering program provides hands-on outreach activities and resources to girls in Years 7 to 10 through school visits, on-campus workshops and mentors. Participants will meet successful female industry engineers and students and explore the opportunities a career in engineering can offer.
The scheme also includes a Women in Engineering mentoring arrangement, matching female engineering students with female Rio Tinto engineers.
Rio Tinto's program lead Hannah Golding, a mechatronics engineer, said that programs such as Girls in Engineering played a key role in addressing the gender imbalance within the engineering industry.
"Less than 12 per cent of the engineering workforce is composed of women," Ms Golding said. "This gender imbalance means the industry is significantly underutilising a key part of the workforce, which is detrimental to economic productivity and growth.
"Girls in Engineering aligns with Rio Tinto's diversity strategy and focuses on creating excitement about engineering, highlighting opportunities for girls in this multi-faceted engineering profession.
"It also aims to show how creative and collaborative engineering truly is. Through this program we hope to increase participation of girls and young women in training and employment in engineering.
"This year, the program was successfully piloted in five schools and so now we're delighted to be extending the program to five more WA schools."