29 February 2016

Showcasing engineering’s diversity in 2016

  • The 2016 Young Engineer of the Year finalists, from left: Liam Edwards, Martin Peat, Felicity Jensen and John Cheah.

It’s set to be a big year for celebrating the growing diversity in New Zealand’s engineering industry.

Diversity is good for business – it leads to improved financial performance, management and governance. It also helps organisations to be more representative of their clients, produce more innovative ideas and boost workplace productivity.

The Young Engineer of the Year Award presentations held in February gave four young engineers the opportunity to speak about their work to peers and colleagues from all stages of the profession. The four finalists competed for the Award, which recognises young engineers who have demonstrated excellence in their career, leadership qualities and a contribution to their community. The winner will be announced at our Fellows’ and Achievers’ Forum later this month.

Our four finalists are a great example of what we mean by diversity in our profession. Chosen for their engineering successes in the early stages of their careers, they show how people from all backgrounds can make their way into an engineering career. Three of the finalists were male, one female. They work in different fields – chemical and process, transportation, structural and stormwater engineering. Three of the finalists are based in Auckland, though one lives and works temporarily in Brazil on projects related to the Rio Olympics. The fourth finalist lives and works in Hokitika. One of the finalists follows the Baha’i faith, one was born outside New Zealand and two are learning languages (Māori and Portuguese) to improve their communication with their stakeholders.

Advice to my younger self”

Our second-ever female President, Elena Trout FIPENZ, takes the helm in March. Elena is set to deliver the keynote address at the third Women in Engineering Leadership conference delivered by Liquid Learning later this month. The conference theme is “Advice to my younger self”. Elena has held a number of board positions and has a broad range of experience in the transport, infrastructure and energy sectors. Her address is sure to provide useful insights for upcoming engineering leaders.

We’re looking forward to hosting the 2016 meeting of the Asia Pacific Nation Network (APNN) in August this year. The APNN is a regional group under the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists. The one-day meeting will see advocates for gender diversity in STEM fields from 12 Asia Pacific countries meet in Wellington to share progress and challenges in their countries. A concurrent one-day conference will focus on the global question of how we can develop the right environment for female engineers and scientists to thrive.

Diversity and inclusion

Work continues on our Women in Engineering programme, which morphs into a diversity and inclusion programme this year. This move recognises the many bases of diversity – gender, ethnicity, age, qualification and engineering specialism to name a few. Our current initiatives, including the delivery of Connect networking events, review of workplace practices and profiles of engineers working flexibly and support will continue. New projects include research to identify issues facing older engineers, Māori and Pasifika people, migrants and others.

Get in touch

If you’d like to get involved with our diversity and inclusion programme, or have experience or data you’d like to share, email Policy Advisor Tracey Ayre