Women in Subsea Engineering: Creating a Diverse Future for the Industry
Gender equity, the fair treatment of women and men based on their respective needs, is now being recognised as vitally important to all Australian industries. It’s broadly accepted as being about progressing human rights, but it also makes great commercial sense, driving creativity and innovation.
Women in Subsea Engineering (WISE) is an organisation dedicated to achieving gender equity in the field of subsea engineering. Subsea engineering generally refers to equipment or operations that are fully submerged in water. This often includes ocean exploration with remote or autonomous underwater vehicles, the laying and repair of underwater cables and offshore natural gas operations. The roles are ordinarily technical but range across areas as diverse as environmental sciences to underwater construction engineering. As in all fields, gender diversity on subsea projects is beneficial in ensuring innovative, safe and technically excellent outcomes. This is particularly important for the natural gas industry, which relies heavily on the profession.
Founded by Subsea Energy Australia in 2016 as a way to tackle the issue of gender inequality in the field, WISE is doing exceptionally well, having secured the support of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science as well as the Minister for Women.
This is a huge undertaking in an industry that has historically been male-dominated. Research conducted by the World Petroleum Council and Boston Consulting Group suggests that only 3 in every 20 technical jobs in the oil and gas sector is held by a woman. WISE suggests these statistics may be even more dramatic in subsea engineering specificially.
According to WISE Co-ordinator, Allison Selman, this is especially evident in senior technical roles. “WISE is passionate about promoting women in this industry, not just to participate, but to become part of the future generation of leaders”, said Ms Selman.
Like other organisations more broadly supporting the future role of women in STEM, WISE has recognised the need to provide opportunities for girls at a young age. The organisation has put 30 high school girls through their Future Engineers Program, a five-day course which equips participants with career-based information as well as practical skills like public speaking and runs a mentoring program year-round. WISE provides professional development and networking opportunities to its members, and well as learning opportunities through its Get Wiser lunch and Learn series.
The WISE initiative has been driven by studies that demonstrate that companies and industries are more successful when there is gender diversity within an organisation and at the board level. As role models have proven to be a successful way to attract women into an industry, WISE promoted 12 women in successful STEM professions through their Wavemakers Campaign, which included a Careers Comic Book that can be purchased and donated to an Australian primary school.
Having gained initial momentum from the Women in STEM grant, WISE is looking for support from individuals and organisations, to continue operating and growing in 2019 and beyond. For more information about WISE and to offer your support, please visit http://wise.subseaenergy.org.au/.
image courtesy of Women in Subsea Engineering
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