Otago Polytechnic addresses inequality

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 under-represented 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% of members were women.  Now it’s at about 14%.”

“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” Ms Ayre says.

Caitlin 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.

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