Industry leaders raise opportunities for next-gen female students

Rio Tinto has partnered with the University of Queensland (UQ) to give female students an opportunity to experience life as an engineer for a day.

Thirty female high school students were selected from All Hallows’ School and Kedron State High School in Brisbane from a 150-strong cohort of “keen maths and science high achievers”.

Rio Tinto, Australian Power Institute, Powerlink Queensland and Ergon Energy Network and Energex are among sponsors of the program, providing funding, mentorship opportunities and workforce pathways for young women who strive for engineering careers.

The students learned from professionals during a Women in Engineering event at UQ about how engineers use new technologies to deliver innovative solutions.

This campus experience included workshops on how to provide clean water to developing countries; building advanced technologies such as rockets and prosthetic limbs; and the importance of renewable energy.

A group of students at the Rio Tinto Brisbane CBD office. Image: Judit Losh


“We believe for any industry to survive nowadays they need to meet and exceed the expectations of community which of course is made up of a wide demographical base,” Energy Queensland chief transformation officer Belinda Watton said.

“We identified this many years ago and right across our business we have people of all ages, genders and from every corner of the globe in technical to senior leadership roles ensuring our business remains attune to the community’s changing needs.”

In the industry-wide struggle for improved gender diversity, both companies and universities recognise the power of empowering young women throughout high school, according to UQ.

The number of female engineering students beginning their programs at UQ this year has risen to 24.3 per cent, which is 6.3 per cent higher than the national average.

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