Engineering for Australia Taskforce

Improving gender representation for domestic applicants to Australian engineering university degrees.

Engineering for Australia Taskforce

The Engineering for Australia Taskforce (The Taskforce) has been created to focus on improving gender representation for domestic applicants to Australian engineering university degrees.

Engineering enrolments do not reflect the diversity of the Australian population. This is particularly well documented for gender diversity, which will be the focus of the Taskforce.

Despite numerous outreach and engagement programs and initiatives, no Australian engineering faculty has been able to achieve increases of significance for undergraduate enrolments across all courses. The number of female students who meet the prerequisites to study engineering continues to decline. From at least age 9, girls report lower interest and confidence than boys in maths, despite no difference in ability. 

The gender diversity issues in STEM and Engineering, in particular, have been well documented and are well known.

Meet the Taskforce

On 4 March 2019, a group met in Melbourne and over video conference to discuss their concerns about diversity in engineering education.  Originally, the meeting was planned between Professor Elizabeth Croft (Monash), Professor Mark Hoffman (UNSW) and Professor Elanor Huntington (ANU), but the guest list grew as other people signaled interest.

The group agreed to form a Taskforce to increase female participation in Australian engineering education. A report was commissioned through Monash University to identify opportunities to mitigate the existing barriers that prevent underrepresented groups from choosing to study engineering.

The Taskforce will work on selecting actions from the report to implement, based on the potential to influence the choices of young people to study engineering. Actions will be chosen that are able to be scaled to national, system-wide solutions.

Taskforce members include:

 

Name

 

Organisation

     

Position

Jane MacMaster (Chair)

 

Engineers Australia

     

Chief Engineer

Elizabeth Croft (Deputy Chair) 

 

Monash

     

Dean of Engineering

Elanor Huntington

 

ANU

     

Dean of Engineering

Lisa Harvey-Smith

 

Federal Government

     

Women in STEM Ambassador 

Katrina Falkner

 

University of Adelaide 

     

Dean of Engineering

Sally-Ann Williams

 

Cicada Innovations

     

CEO

 

Jane Macmaster


Jane MacMaster (Chair)
 

Chief Engineer,

Engineers Australia

 

Professor Elizabeth Croft


Prof. Elizabeth Croft
(Deputy Chair)

Dean of Engineering,

Monash University


 

 

For further information or inquiries, please contact [email protected]

 

Read the full biographies of the Engineering for Australia Taskforce:

Jane Macmaster

 

Jane MacMaster (Chair)

Chief Engineer,

Engineers Australia

 

 

 

Jane MacMaster has worked as an aerospace, mechanical and systems engineer in Australia and internationally, focusing primarily on supersonic flight vehicle design, operations research and rapid prototyping in the Defence sector. She has qualifications in Engineering (Mechanical) and International Relations.

She has previously worked as a senior advisor within the strategy unit of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and as a management consultant. Before becoming Chief Engineer at Engineers Australia, she was Founder and Director of Ponder Enterprises, where she used her engineering skillset to develop and apply an approach for complex problem solving to address complex societal challenges.

Professor Elizabeth Croft

 

Professor Elizabeth Croft

(Deputy Chair)

Dean of Engineering,

Monash

 

 

Professor Elizabeth Croft is the Dean of Engineering at Monash University.  Her research in industrial robotics and human-robot interaction advances the design of intelligent controllers and interaction methods that support human-robot collaboration. She has won national and international awards for her research, advocacy for women in engineering and educational contributions.

She is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Engineers Australia, Engineers Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

Prof. Elanor Huntington

 

Professor Elanor Huntington

Dean of Engineering and Computer Science,

ANU

 

 

 

Professor Elanor Huntington is Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University (ANU).  Elanor is an established senior academic leader, with Board appointments to Innovation Science Australia, Significant Capital Ventures, Questacon and other government scientific advisory roles.  In 2017 she was named an honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia and led the extended Group of Eight (Go8+) Engineering Deans as the first female Chair up until 2019.

Before joining the ANU, Elanor was the Head of Engineering and IT at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). During this time, she helped bring about significant transformation within the School, including setting up UNSW Space and The Australian Centre for Cyber Security.

In 2000, Elanor completed her PhD in experimental Quantum Optics at the ANU. Her current research includes the control of quantum systems, more specifically; the interface between theory and applications. In 2009, Elanor completed a Masters of Information Technology, also through the ANU.

Elanor has recently been selected to provide expert advice to the newly established Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence. In 2017 she delivered a TEDxSydney Talk on ‘Why we need Engineers now more than ever’ and later in 2019, co-founded the Engineering for Australia Taskforce to provide expert advice on addressing barriers to women’s participation in university engineering programs.

As Dean, Elanor does more than contemplate the difference between distinctions and high distinctions. Her innovative thinking has recast engineering and computer science at the ANU with an unprecedented investment to reimagine the way we do things.

Prof. Lisa Harvey-Smith

 

Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith

Women in STEM Ambassador,

Federal Government

 

 

 

Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith is the Australian Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador and a Professor of Practice at The University of New South Wales. Her role is to increase the participation of women and girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies and careers in Australia by driving systemic and cultural change. As an astrophysicist, her research interests are in the birth and death of stars, cosmic magnetic fields and supermassive black holes.

Professor Harvey-Smith serves on the Australian Space Agency’s Advisory Group and previously led a team of 30 scientists and engineers at CSIRO developing the Square Kilometre Array – a next-generation radio telescope that will survey billions of years of cosmic history. She is author of the popular science books When Galaxies CollideThe Secret Life of Stars and Under the Stars: Astrophysics for Bedtime.

Sally-Ann Williams

 

Sally-Ann Williams

CEO,

Cicada Innovations

 

 

 

As the CEO of Cicada Innovations Sally-Ann leads Australia’s pioneering deep tech incubator supporting companies solving the world's most pressing problems through science & engineering. Cicada Innovations has nurtured hundreds of visionary deep tech innovators to validate, commercialise and scale high impact technologies globally across MedTech, HealthTech, AgTech, FoodTech, Clean Energy, AI, Manufacturing 4.0 and more.

Before joining Cicada Innovations, she spent over 12 years at Google as an Executive Program Manager on the engineering team leading work on R&D collaborations with universities, startup and entrepreneurship engagement and pioneering work on CS & STEM education including building world-first collaborations delivering national transformation.

Sally-Ann has been involved in driving national engagement and change strategies in innovation & entrepreneurship, Computer Science and STEM education as a member of the COAG STEM Partnership Forum and contributed to the foundation of StartupAUS, a non-profit with a mission to transform Australia through technology entrepreneurship. She has led several cross sector working groups to drive change both in policy & cultural transformation needed to grow a thriving technology driven economy, and served on 4 University Industry Advisory Boards in the engineering and computer science departments.

Sally-Ann is an experienced Non-Executive Board member currently serving on the boards Cicada Innovations, Biz Capital and AusOcean an environmental not-for-profit organisation with a mission to help our oceans through technology. She has also been a Non-Executive Director of World Vision Australia and Fishburners. She is an advisor to several state and national working groups on tech & innovation and is a mentor and advisor to industry and university incubators & accelerators including Startmate.

Sally-Ann is a frequent keynote speaker on topics such as Deep Tech, technology transformation, innovation & entrepreneurship, inclusion, business development, commercialisation and transformation.

Read more about the Engineering for Australia Taskforce

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