Welcoming the female leaders of tomorrow

Courtney Withers

Courtney Withers, studying for a Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Mechatronic) / Bachelor of Project Management

17 March 2017

The results are in and more women than ever are choosing to study engineering and computing undergraduate degrees at the University of Sydney.

Across the engineering, computing and project management disciplines, the proportion of women at the university represents one in three students – that's double the national average.

With women representing 43% of commencing project management students and more than half of total biomedical engineering students, the university's strategies to attract women are clearly working. The good news is reflected across all faculty degrees, with a 30% growth in total female enrolments over the last four years.

The university recognises the need to support and provide opportunities for women throughout their engineering and computing studies. This year more than half of the faculty's 2017 Leadership Scholarships were awarded to young women.

The scholarship, designed to provide high-calibre students with leadership development and a professional experience program with some of Australia's leading firms, was offered to 18 female students from a total of 30 successful applicants (60%).

Over the span of their degree, scholarship recipients will build skills in self-leadership, stakeholder and relationship management, team work and problem solving. These skills and hands-on experience were those identified as being most valuable by industry leaders in a 2017 Pollinate research study.

Scholarship recipients also receive ongoing academic mentorship, access to valuable industry networks including alumni, government and industry leaders and have the option to undertake project-based units of study.

Elly Williams

Elly Williams, studying for a Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Mechatronic) / Bachelor of Science

This scope of opportunities is what spurred scholarship recipient Courtney Withers, who has recently commenced her Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Mechatronic) / Bachelor of Project Management degree, to submit her initial application.

"The university has a culture which encourages you to develop and succeed, and in my mind this scholarship will help me achieve both," said Withers.

"The scholarship stood out for me as it provides not only a foundation in leadership, but also valuable practical experience within the autonomous systems and artificial intelligence industry.

"I am grateful for this amazing opportunity and cannot wait to see where the scholarship takes me over the course of my studies."

These sentiments are shared by fellow scholarship recipient Elly Williams, who has started her Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Mechatronic) / Bachelor of Science degree with the goal of becoming an Environmental Engineer.

"I love engineering, particularly mechatronics, and this scholarship will enhance my passion by offering me valuable leadership experience throughout my degree," said Elly.

"The prospect of undertaking a project-based subject where I can collaborate with diverse global companies such as Engineers Without Borders is very exciting. Combining that with industry placements will set me up for a meaningful engineering career.

"The great thing about this scholarship is that it will support me in whatever I choose to do."

The university has a long history of leadership in gender equity which began in 1881 when it was one of the first universities in the world to admit women on the same basis as men. Read more