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Otago Polytech­nic has come up with a boost for women want­ing to get into the male- dom­i­nated fields of engi­neer­ing and IT.

Recog­nis­ing that women are un­der­rep­re­sented in these in­dus­tries, Otago Polytech­nic has cre­ated two schol­ar­ships, each worth $1000 for ev­ery year of study.

Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Mike Wad­dell says it’s im­por­tant to pro­mote in­clu­sion in all pro­grammes. “Otago Polytech­nic val­ues our re­spon­si­bil­ity in so­ci­ety. If we can sup­port women into un­der-rep­re­sented ar­eas of study, it’s bet­ter for the com­mu­nity as a whole.”

Both the IT and Engi­neer­ing in­dus­tries are on New Zealand Im­mi­gra­tion’s skill short­age list for long term short­ages.

Waitaki District Coun­cil As­set Man­ager Caitlin Dono­van grad­u­ated from Otago Polytech­nic in 2011 with a NZ Diploma in Engi­neer­ing (Civil). There were only two women in her class, but she says that didn’t af­fect her stud­ies or de­sire to en­ter a ca­reer in engi­neer­ing.

“It ticks all my boxes. It’s a great job, and one of the higher pay­ing in­dus­tries. There are plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties go­ing for­ward too,” she says.

Tracey Ayre is co-leader of the Di­ver­sity and In­clu­sion pro­gramme at IPENZ (In­sti­tu­tion of Pro­fes­sional En­gi­neers NZ). She says fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion is in­creas­ing in very small steps. “When the Di­ver­sity and In­clu­sion pro­gramme was launched in 2011, only 11 per­cent of mem­bers were women. Now it’s at about 14 per­cent.”

“There are lots of great op­por­tu­ni­ties in engi­neer­ing. It pays re­ally well, qual­i­fi­ca­tions are recog­nised over­seas, and there’s a short­age of en­gi­neers around the coun­try,” Ayre says.

Dono­van sums it all up in one sen­tence. “Just be­cause there aren’t many women in the in­dus­try doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be!”

Ap­pli­ca­tions for the schol­ar­ships close on Fe­bru­ary 7th 2017.

IT FEELS as i f time has passed very quickly since start­ing engi­neer­ing this year. I have com­pleted mul­ti­ple as­sign­ments, tests and ex­ams and have come out the other end ex­cited to con­tinue this jour­ney.

Re­cently I fin­ished my first group as­sign­ment for de­sign where we de­signed and built a truss bridge out of pop­si­cle sticks. We came sec­ond in our tu­to­rial with t he truss hold­ing 425N be­fore fail­ure, which was due to t he con­straint of us­ing PVA glue to at­tach t he cross mem­bers.

Ex­ams went very quickly due to t he tight sched­ule but I feel pre­pared to choose my spe­cial­i­sa­tion. This was ex­tremely stress­ful for me as t here are nine choices and I strug­gle to make small daily de­ci­sions whereas t his de­ci­sion will i mpact my l i fe greatly. The papers se­lected for f i rst years helps to nar­row down t his search as you dis­cover what you love but also what you re­ally don’t en­joy, which I found to be cir­cuit theory.

There­fore, I made t he tough de­ci­sion and chose Chem­i­cal and Ma­te­ri­als Engi­neer­ing as my f i rst choice with Civil and En­vi­ron­men­tal as my sec­ond choice. The ma­te­ri­als paper was one of my favourite papers and I al­ready had a love of chem­istry, which ce­mented my choice. ChemMat also has t he high­est pro­por­tion of girls – al­most 30 per­cent I be­lieve – and i s one of t he harder spe­cial­i­sa­tions to get i nto with only 80 places avail­able. Due to its 90 places avail­able and t he peaked i nter­est, I be­lieve Soft­ware i s go­ing to be t he most pop­u­lar spe­cial­i­sa­tion for 2017.

Claire Parker.

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