The Roles of Women in Civil Engineering in Australia


In the whole world, culture has maintained that men dominate the engineering field. This has been a world problem and many researchers have engaged themselves in trying to analyze this condition and to find out the possible solutions to it. To make the number of female engineers bigger, engineering colleges and universities worldwide have begun putting more effort into recruiting more females. It is very unfair that the recent number of female engineers worldwide is only 18% of the total number of engineers. This gender gap ought to be lowered as many of the countries are seriously taking part in reviewing the issue. Despite this, women have their roles to play in this field. To encourage them to join the field psychologists have said that women lack self-confidence and they think that men should only pursue science and mathematics. This and many other beliefs are the cause of the low number of female engineers. To remedy this problem, females should be assisted to overcome their fears and to create interest in the field. In this case, we are going to examine civil engineering in Australia. This discussion will view the roles of women in civil engineering (Kahn 75).


Civil engineering is one of the professional disciplines in Australia that deals with designing, construction, and maintenance of the naturally built environment. This field deals with bridges, roads, and other buildings that are built physically. This discipline is further divided into sub-divisions based on the part of the environment they work with. In Australia, civil engineering is offered from the degree level. In addition, certification is done by the state of Queensland. Women have different roles they play in this field and they do it as per the sub-division. They work closely with surveyors who come up with the areas that need to be worked on and then the engineers create fixed projects for their work (National Research Council 36).

Australia is one of the countries concerned with reducing the gender gap in the engineering field and other bodies. Women in Australia make up over half of the population. Research conducted in 2006 about women and their employment as civil engineers showed very astonishing data. In that year it was found out the population of women, joining tertiary institutions was 54.8% of all students who had finished secondary education. It was found out that the majority of the females were joining to take commerce, society and culture, food, hospitality, and personal service courses (Stewart Malley and Lavaque-Manty 219). It was found out that the number that was joining to take engineering was only 4.6% of all women enrolled. Among the 4.6% of all women enrolled, only one eighth had joined to take civil engineering. This evidence is discouraging since the number of women joining tertiary schools was bigger than for men, yet the number of women joining higher learning institutions to study civil engineering was only 18% and men were 82 percent. In the same year, data indicated that 4.8 million women were in some form of employment. 30% of the latter numbers of women were involved in small businesses. Looking at the data, only 3 percent of the 4.8 million employed women were working as engineers. Only 10 percent of the female engineers (3 percent of 4.8 women) were working as civil engineers. The Australian government was perturbed and they began to put more effort into the recruitment and employment of women engineers (Layne 103).

The above data was difficult to believe since the population of females was 56% of the country’s population. In addition, the number of women joining tertiary institutions was higher than that of men. To add salt to the injury, the number of employed people was 60% women and 40 percent males. No matter the large numbers of women joining tertiary institutions and employed, only 1.5% of them were in civil engineering. The results were unbelievable since gender discrimination had been fought seriously in the previous year. Therefore, the problem was with women since opportunities in civil engineering were available (National Research Council 49).

Women working as civil engineers were very few although they played different roles in the engineering field as per the sub-division. They defended against flooding and erosion. They also helped in reclaiming useless land and they made it useful. In another sub-division of construction engineering, only a few women were involved in the planning and execution of designs. Women at that time feared this sub-division as it was more business-oriented with drafting and drawing contracts. Women were in fear of the uprising cases of stopped contracts due to corruption. Only a small number of women were involved in this sub-division because it involved many of the latest technologies. It was therefore perceived as difficult when pursued (Layne 89).

Women in environmental engineering were involved in the treatment of chemical, biological, and thermal waste. In 2006, no women worked as structural, materials, and water resources engineers. In the real field, men did most of the work such as investigating structures in the ground to foresee forthcoming earthquakes. Men dominated the whole field and women were discouraged from venturing into the field. Most of the female engineers were only involved in collecting materials to be used in the work. When it came to budgeting for the materials to be used, women engineers were put aside since men believed that women advocated for much spending. This was discrimination against women and it discouraged the female engineers to the extent that others opted to join business and politics (Kahn 142).


The number of female engineers in the field and tertiary institutions is very small. The government in Australia should use better and more realistic strategies to reduce this big gender gap. As from the data collected in 2006, very few women had pursued civil engineering, which is the biggest discipline of engineering in Australia. It was also very discouraging that female engineers were put aside in some works that they were capable of performing. This culture of men dominating the civil engineering field in Australia has persisted even to date. The measures that the government has been taking to reduce this gender gap have borne invisible fruits and therefore they have to come up with better strategies. Many organizations and programs have been enacted to tackle this and we expect to see better results by 2015.

Works cited

Kahn, Jetty. Women in Engineering Careers. New York: Capstone Press, 1999.

Layne, Margaret. Women in engineering: Pioneers and trail blazers. New Jersey: ASCE Publications, 2009.

National Research Council (U.S). To recruit and advance: women students and faculty in science and engineering. Washington DC: National Academies Press, 2006.

Stewart, Abigail, Malley Janet and Lavaque-Manty Danielle. Transforming science and engineering: advancing academic women. Washington DC: University of Michigan Press, 2007.

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