Encouraging the new generation of female engineers and scientists is at the core of the “Girls in Science” program, which was launched in Queensland in January 2018 by SMEC’s Holly Roberts-Simmonds, Environmental Scientist, Catherine Das Gupta, Rail Manager, and James Manning, Power & Energy Manager.

Throughout the year, teams from SMEC visit schools across Queensland to encourage female students to consider a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) fields.

“Increasing the visibility of positive female role models in STEM is key – if young women can see someone who has achieved a career in STEM and is doing some amazing things, it presents them with a role model, which can have a significant impact on their choice of career path,” says Holly.

The program currently operates from the Gold Coast to Townsville, with an aim to extend to Cairns and Darwin in the Northern Territory later this year. Although it has been challenging running in-person events since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has successfully hosted events in both Brisbane and Townsville. Holly, Rachel Bradshaw and Dipal Shah, together with colleagues Jasmine Kamp and Sunita Dhital from the Townsville office, have connected with students by running interactive workshops that provide a realistic insight into the opportunities and challenges environmental scientists and engineers see every day.

“Exposing students to our day-to-day life offers valuable insight into what our roles entail, gives them understanding of the range and nature of STEM careers, and helps students to imagine themselves in the role,” says Holly.

Continuing the engagement with students at Somerville House in South Brisbane, this year Holly and Rachel ran interactive sessions with Year 4 students and connected with Year 10 students during their Careers Day. Jasmine and Sunita also ran interactive presentations with Year 8, 9 and 10 students from Pimlico State High School.

“We hope this program inspires, encourages and empowers young women to take an active role in the transformation of the STEM industry,” says James Phillis, CEO SMEC Australia and New Zealand. “This fantastic initiative is a vital way to connect with the next generation.”

“SMEC is striving to be a leader when it comes to championing diversity and achieving lasting change. I am personally committed to ensuring a better gender-balanced industry as a member of Consult Australia Champions of Change Coalition (CAMCC).”

Read more about SMEC’s commitment to Gender Equality