A new Engineering for Australia Taskforce report reveals that early education is key for promoting women in engineering careers. Engineering is a sector that has far from achieved gender equality, unlike in fields such as medicine and law. While women make up 47% of all employed people in Australia, in engineering, they represent only 12% of the workforce and 16% of university students.

According to the Australian Government Women in STEM Ambassador and a supporter of the Engineering for Australia Taskforce report Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, “If we want more women to choose higher education in engineering, we need more girls to engage with engineering.” But for this to happen, early educators and teachers need support from the education sector and the government to develop girls' interest in engineering.

The Australian report shows clearly that the said sector must become better at "selling itself" and telling stories about the important role engineers play in society. “We need to nurture curiosity early on in childhood education. It’s not something they should only be thinking about in Year 11 and 12. It’s way too late,” said Engineers Australia’s Chief Engineer and Taskforce Chair Jane MacMaster.

Monash University Dean of Engineering Elizabeth Croft said pretty much the same thing: “There is a critical window in early childhood education, as girls form their identity and ideas about what they’re capable of. We must all work together — industry, government and education — to ensure girls’ interest in engineering is recognised and nurtured.”

Picture: Bring Your Child to Work Day teaches kids about science, technology (Wikimedia Commons)