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Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Australia’s, “Futur-neer” program has secured a major grant from the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources as part of the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship (WiSE) program. 

The Futur-neer program is one of eight WiSE projects encouraging participation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The WiSE program consists of a number of phases with phase one allocated to Engineers Without Borders’ Outreach program which provides an experience of the engineering profession that is essential to, and active in, creating equitable, sustainable solutions for people and the planet; a message that resonates with and inspires girls and other diverse cohorts.

“We work primarily with young people, many who are from groups underrepresented in engineering, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and women.     

Our volunteers – themselves engineers – take participants through a series of engagement activities which showcase engineering as a powerful discipline that has the potential to shape the world.  

We show participants that the profession is not just about studying maths and science. Engineers need to consider human and environmental factors in their profession. So we re-define engineering to young people by highlighting that it is a socio-technical discipline.” said Alison Stoakley, Senior Manager, Education at EWB. 

Retaining and attracting women in engineering

The “Futur-neer” program has the double benefit of retaining and attracting women in engineering. Participants get to interact with and learn from engineers who are just like them; young and cool. Volunteers delivering the workshops, 60% of whom are women, are reminded of why they are passionate about the profession, and tend to stay in it. 

Eleanor Loudon, CEO of EWB, describes this community of peers, of passionate, like-minded others as creating a “stickiness”.  It directly creates retention in the traditionally leaky pipeline.

Eleanor believes more diversity in engineering creates better outcomes for the world. She adds, “All individuals who want to, should have the opportunity to participate in a profession that is shaping our world.   It’s not only fair; it’s critical for success.” 

This is the third cohort of WiSE projects. The full list of WiSE grant recipients can be found here.

About Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador

The Office of the Women in STEM Ambassador is an Australian Government initiative to address gender equity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Led by Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, the Office promotes awareness of STEM careers to young people, parents and carers, and works with educators to challenge gender stereotypes and promote inclusive and engaging STEM education for all. The Office works with stakeholders across government, education and training, research and industry sectors to drive cultural and systemic change to institutions and workplaces that remove structural barriers and enable the full participation of women and girls in STEM education and careers.