Jun 21, 2019People & Industry

Transforming the Future for Female Engineers

Melbourne-based engineer, Michelle Wingrave, admits that while in high school there wasn’t a ‘burning desire’ to be an engineer, but the encouragement of one high school teacher has led to a life-long career working in the oil and gas industry.

“My maths teacher suggested I would be good at engineering and encouraged me to look into it. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.”

Now a Contract Performance Manager with Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, Michelle says her job delivers many different elements, and no two days are the same.

“I get involved in so many different aspects of managing our assets from delivering projects to maintenance, new connections and emergency management, throw in some customer service and IT and I never get bored.”

On 23 June, the world celebrates International Women in Engineering Day. This year’s theme is #TransformTheFuture.

In her 20-year career, Michelle has seen many changes to the industry, and still believes that there are many changes to come.

“One of the challenges I am currently facing relates to gas distribution businesses moving from a solely asset focus to more customer focus.

Many of our standards and practices focus on what is best for the asset with little focus on how an end customer is impacted.  This is a huge culture change for our industry, not only engineers but also the field crews.”

“There are a number of changes coming with technology continuously evolving and becoming more affordable. We have engineers investigating a range of innovative solutions that will change how we manage our assets, these include use of drones, alternative metering solutions and alternative excavation solutions.”

According to Engineers Australia, female engineers make up 13.6% of the engineering labour workforce in Australia. While this number has increased over time, there’s still a concerted effort to encourage young female students to pursue an engineering career.

Michelle says gender hasn’t impacted or swayed her career.

“I don’t feel like being female has ever been an issue in my career.  At a previous gas company, I was the first female field manager with field supervisors and crews reporting to me, this was one of my favourite positions I held and one where I learnt a lot.”

“The industry has been very supportive of female engineers throughout my career without going over the top.”

“My advice to young females is simply to be confident in your abilities and as you move through your career make sure you build a support system.  I have been lucky enough to have had some very supportive mentors during my career whom I could go to for advice.”