Women encouraged to get into engineering

14 December 2021

Women encouraged to get into engineering

A NorthTec manager is encouraging women to sign up for a Civil Engineering diploma, saying that females often excel at the subject.

Mike Mullany, Pathway Manager for Architecture and Civil Engineering, said that more women should go into the profession due to their abilities to focus, make plans for the long term, and pay attention to detail. Nationally, only 10 per cent of qualified civil engineers are female – although in Northland, this figure rises to 32 per cent.

Mike Mullany said: “I’ve had some fantastic female students come through each year but there are so few of them. People still see it as a man’s world – but it’s not.”

He said while civil engineers undertake a wide range of tasks, their main role is to plan, organise, and oversee the building and maintenance of structures such as bridges, roads, dams, and waste systems.

Despite what people might think, the role is not labour-intensive and a lot of civil engineering requires work on a computer or in the office, he said, adding that there is a lot of scope for work variation from large-scale infrastructure projects to smaller local jobs.

Work can also include travel and collaboration with stakeholders, and due to the nature of the work, there is also opportunity for flexible working hours, something women often value in their work life.

Sarah Scott, a third-year student of NorthTec’s Level 6 diploma, said: “It’s not all construction sites and lifting heavy stuff. I get to look at beautiful landscapes and gardens, I get to work in the office and outside, there’s a lot of scope. You don’t have to be a tomboy; you can be any type of woman. Just have confidence in you own ability and go for it.”

Careers NZ advises that while rates of women studying in this field are increasing, they still need more. Engineering skills in New Zealand are in short supply and, with increased government spending on infrastructure such as roads, public buildings, and water collection, demand for civil engineers is set to increase in the coming years.

Work in the field is well paid, with new workers usually earning around $60,000-$70,000 per year. Senior civil engineers can earn upwards of $120,000. 

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