Press Release Mar 08, 2019

WA Mum and Daughter Engineering Duo Encourage The Next Generation of Young Women to Chase STEM Careers

A mother and daughter engineering duo are encouraging more girls and young women to pursue their career aspirations and look towards a STEM-related future.

Santos graduate petroleum engineer Mia Savic may be only 24 years old but her short career to date has been a successful one, and she is passionate about encouraging the next generation of female engineers to pursue their dreams.

With new research revealing only 16% of Australian parents understanding what STEM means*, Mia was lucky enough to have known the world of STEM for as long as she can remember with her mum, Sanela Pilav-Savic, also an engineer.

“Seeing mum in a role that is commonly known to be male-dominated made me believe in myself and realise that I can undertake a career in something I enjoy doing, regardless of my gender.”

Sanela, who has been working an engineer for the last 28 years both here and overseas, says modern workplaces must be flexible, particularly for working mums and mum-to-be. 

“Mia is a little machine and she didn’t need much encouragement to pursue an engineering career. The only guidance from me was: ‘Just decide what you want and go for it. There is nothing you can’t do’.

“At the start of my career I was semi-jokingly told by some of my senior colleagues that women should be ‘barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen’. Girls, you should never, ever believe this!”

During her high school studies, Mia participated in the Petroleum Club of WA’s Next Generation Schools Program. The program which has been running since 1991, and which Brighter is a sponsor of in 2019, introduces year 8-10 students to the oil and gas industry in a fun, interactive and educational environment.

The Next Generation School Program involves more than 500 students from across 18 schools working with industry mentors over four visits. The Petroleum Club of WA says it is a great way to connect young people with careers in the oil and gas sector.

“As we’ve seen with Mia, students who’ve participated in the program have gone on to work in the industry and even become mentors themselves. This program helps to share the success stories of our industry, showcasing the impact it has on society and the opportunities it creates for our next generation,” said Kate McCarthy, Club Manager of the Petroleum Club of WA. 

“We are delighted to partner with sponsors, like the Brighter program, in 2019 to help inspire the next generation and positively promote the industry to our future workforce.”

It was only nine years after completing the Next Generation School Program did Mia return to her old high school, Applecross Senior High School, in 2018 to mentor secondary students in her capacity as a graduate petroleum engineer.

“It can be difficult knowing what to do after high school, especially when there are so many career paths that are available that students may not know about.

“Mentoring programs, like the Next Generation Schools Program, enable students to gain an appreciation of various industries and careers by professionals sharing their personal experiences and first-hand knowledge,” Mia said.

With a concerted effort to encourage more children, especially young girls, to pursue a STEM-related career here in Australia, Mia says exposure to the disciplines at school will help students guide their own futures. 

“My advice to students is that they should not be afraid to explore options outside of what they’ve been accustomed to. STEM-related careers spark curiosity and drive continuous learning.”

*Research conducted by Brighter, in conjunction with Nature Research

About Brighter: Brighter is an initiative of APPEA, the voice of the Australian oil and gas industry. Brighter is all about natural gas and how we use it every day. As a naturally occurring and abundant resource, it will continue to play an important role in powering Australian homes and businesses.

For more information and high-res imagery, please contact:
Ann-Maree Andritsakis
Media and Digital Manager, Brighter
0403 581 325
[email protected]

Click to download hi-resolution image Sanela Pilav-Savic and daughter Mia Back to Press Releases
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For more information:

Patrick Lion Media Manager
Brighter is an initiative of APPEA, the voice of the Australian oil and gas industry. Brighter is all about natural gas and how we use it every day. As a naturally occurring and abundant resource, it will continue to play an important role in powering Australian homes and businesses. About Brighter