Female students drawn to UNSW engineering

Men still dominate in the field of engineering, with women making up only 15.8 per cent of enrolments in engineering courses at Australian universities in 2010, says the latest Engineers Australia report.
However, there are signs that more women are choosing the profession as a career path. One of them is Deniz Kayis, who will start at the University of NSW this year for a combined engineering/law degree.
The 18-year-old Sydney Girls High student secured a place at a UNSW course along with 7800 students during the main round of university offers.
UNSW’s engineering faculty is planning to boost female enrolments to 25 per cent by 2020. This could happen sooner than the target year with encouraging signs already visible.
Last year, women comprised about 19 per cent of the engineering student population, while in sub-disciplines such as chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, women made up about 40 per cent of students.
Also, UNSW’s female engineering students who remain and complete the program are well above the national average in terms of course completion and retention.
Pro-vice chancellor (students) Professor Wai-Fong Chua said the university had become attractive to school leavers with high academic achievement – receiving the highest number of first preferences from the “Top 500” group of students.
Kayis was one of more than 40 high achievers who attained an ATAR of 99.9; she was awarded a UNSW Scientia Scholarship worth $10,000 annually.
Kayis continued a family tradition by accepting the UNSW offer.
“UNSW is a great university. Both my mother and my sister are there so I know I’ve made the right choice,” she said. “The combined degree also gives me flexibility and options later on.”
Her mother Berman Kayis is an associate professor in the school of mechanical and manufacturing engineering, while her sister Ann has just enrolled in a PhD with the Australian School of Business after finishing a combined commerce/law degree.
“If I decide to go down the research path I can choose something that encompasses both – maybe legal issues in engineering or if I’m working in corporate law, having a background in engineering can help there too,” Deniz said.

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