Griffith University Women in Engineering – Q&A with Tiana Sing
My name is Tiana Sing and I’m currently in my 4th and final year of a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Design and Modelling at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. I have been a member of the Women in Engineering WiE club for the last two and a half years having gained experience across two different roles.
Previously, I was the Cohort Liaison for my year level, providing communication and bridging the gap between the students in my cohort and the WiE executive team. This year, I took up the role of Outreach Coordinator, which looks after organising outreach events including communicating with the particular venues and students involved.
What is WiE?
WiE is a university club with the aim of providing female undergraduate and postgraduate engineering students with access to study and career support, relevant networks, and events. With a strong centre around professional development, we help students learn how to present themselves in a professional context, as well as providing them with the connections to further help them pursue their careers. In addition, WiE also has a highly successful outreach program, which runs activities aiming to inspire the incoming generation to pursue a career in engineering.
How did you get involved with WiE?
During my 1st year of uni at the engineering orientation, different engineering clubs made short presentations about what they do and how to join, but at the time I was set on just focusing on my uni work for my first year, just to settle in. However, a few of my friends joined WiE and would often tell me about the different events they were running.
Eventually, I couldn’t lie to myself anymore, I really wanted to be a part of it. So, as soon as 2nd year began, I started attending meetings and I haven’t looked back!
Who and why should people join WiE?
Whilst the club does have a focus on supporting female students and bringing more women into the engineering industry, we still welcome male students to join. Not only will they also have access to the professional development events and be able to assist in our outreach events, but we also believe it is necessary for everyone – men included – to understand the struggles that women face in this industry; for that is the only way that changes can be made.
What challenges do women face in the Engineering profession?
One of the bigger issues that women face in the engineering profession is discrimination.
Some men within this industry may not be entirely used to the idea of having women as equals in their team, which can often lead to women being ignored, their ideas disregarded or having someone constantly speak over the top of them. Whilst this can be disheartening and frustrating, it’s important to speak up about it (albeit politely) or it will never stop. But what can come with that, is a fear of being seen as controlling or overpowering.
What I want to say to all those women out there pursuing a career in engineering, no matter what stage you’re at, speak up for yourself if you ever feel like you’re being treated this way. You will grow as a person from this, you will become stronger, more courageous and determined. And if your company reprimands you for speaking up for yourself and how you’re treated, then they are not someone you want to work for. Get the respect you deserve, ladies!
What would you say to girls in school/college who may be considering Engineering as a career choice/study option?
Firstly, I would like to say that’s fantastic! It’s a great industry that works on exciting projects that only get more amazing as technology advances, no matter which discipline you choose. Engineering is interesting and challenging. It can bring out your problem-solving side, as well as spark your creativity and innovation.
I do also wish to share one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received, from a woman named Helen Burns. She taught me to never let yourself feel like the “token woman” or that you’re only there to boost the percentage of women in a company. Engineering takes courage and lots of hard work.
Always remember, that you have earned every single job you are offered, any position you take, any role you’re given, you deserve it. No company will hire you if they didn’t think that you could do the job. Every team needs diversity in their people to succeed. You are needed in that team, and you have earned that position.
Why aren’t there more women in engineering today?
I think that as girls are growing up engineering is not usually put forward as an option or advertised as a career path. I’ve lost count of the number of times that people are surprised when I say I study engineering. For this reason, not many young women are choosing to study engineering at university, which ultimately makes it difficult for companies to hire many women.
This is the reason why WiE spends a lot of time on outreach activities; to show young women that engineering is a fun and exciting career path that they could pursue.
How can the industry and educators make engineering more attractive to women?
Firstly, getting involved in clubs like WiE can make a big difference. It shows women that your company is passionate about supporting and uplifting women in this industry. That alone will help make engineering more enticing.
In addition, promoting strong female leaders can instil a sense of pride, determination, and encouragement in younger women that they could be that person one day and that it is possible to climb the ladder and achieve their dreams.
What are some interesting events that WIE hosted in the past?
Over the last few years, we have hosted several school visits where we run workshops and engineering activities for the children to learn more about engineering and what it entails. In collaboration with other engineering clubs at Griffith, we have hosted two major networking nights, each with over 150 attendees.
These were a fantastic opportunity for students to make some industry connections and learn about the day-to-day life of these engineering professionals. Annually, we host the mock interviews open to all engineering students at Griffith, where students can gain some valuable interview experience and advice.
Last year, we held a large outreach event called ‘Girls Day’ with the support of Google’s Women in Techmakers. We had 60 girls from grades 4-9 from all across South-East Queensland taking part in four activities on rotation for each engineering discipline offered at Griffith Gold Coast. This was a whole day event with a slight competition twist added, with the winning team from each year level receiving prizes from our Google prize pack.
Finally, we host many fun social events for our club members to ensure a sense of friendship and community, whether it be a games night, movies, or dinner, we always have a blast!
Does WiE have any interesting ongoing partnerships and which organizations support this initiative?
This year we were fortunate enough to receive some financial support from the Board of Professional Engineers of Queensland (BPEQ) who assisted us in funding part of the Griffith University’s Engineering Societies Networking Event on the 29th of July 2021, and will also be going towards a big outreach event with Science on the GO in October later this year.
Previously, we have also received financial support from Google’s Women Techmakers program who sponsored us for one of our biggest outreach events at the start of 2020. We have also been in partnership with Microsoft Codess and GenerationYOU. There have been many other companies who have supported us through event invitations, promotion and being interviewers in our annual mock interviews.
We truly value any and all support we receive from other organisations! It helps keep this wonderful club alive and sparking a passion in the lives of children and young women to pursue an engineering career. We are always open to new partnerships, if there are any enquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact us on any social media!
What are some upcoming events that participants can look forward to?
We just had a huge networking event where around 130 students were able to meet and speak with approximately 30 industry professionals to learn more about some engineering companies and hopefully hear some great advice for starting a career in the industry.
In a few months, we’ll be hosting online mock interviews to give the students some experience in answering interview-style questions and learning how to professionally communicate their experiences. The interviewer will have an opportunity at the end to provide the student with some feedback that, speaking from experience, can be extremely valuable for them in real future interviews.
As mentioned in the previous question, we will also be helping to run a big outreach event in October this year in collaboration with Science on the GO. This event will be giving students in Year 6 the chance to experience fun activities across the 4 main engineering disciplines: Electrical, Software, Mechanical and Civil. Having helped run a similar event in the past, this day will be extremely enjoyable and rewarding for all involved!
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