We know that only 12% of engineers are women, but these statistics haven't deterred two of our graduate engineers – Maria Castro Herrera and Sally Tan – from pursuing their passion.
We recently caught up with our graduates to hear more about their personal journeys so far, and why they think it's so important for us to shape tomorrow by improving gender diversity right across the business.
Daring to be different
Maria Castro Herrera grew up in a small town in San Gil, Colombia.
"I was the first of three children from middle-class parents," says Maria.
"Growing up, I was developing my curiosity and passion for science, especially physics. I dreamed of inventing new things that didn't exist before, of inventing the technologies of the future.
"My high school was a technical school, and every year we would build electronic circuits and participate in science week exhibitions. Towards the end of my secondary education, my father asked me what I would study at university. I eagerly answered, 'Electronics!' and his response hit me like a ton of bricks. 'Electronics?' he asked me. 'Why don't you study nursing or accounting like your [female] cousin?'"
Maria says she felt shocked, but not for too long – as she knew certain professions were still considered more suitable for men within her family. After convincing her parents to pay her university admission fees in a public university, Maria completed her Advanced Diploma in Electronic Engineering.
"I was one of about three women in my graduating class," she says.
"I then decided to move to Australia, where I completed a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics (Honours) at RMIT University. I knew this degree would be my ticket to join the men and women at the frontier of technology."
Maria joined AGL as a vacation student engineer at the Melbourne office, before being accepted into our 2020 graduate program.
"Everyone at AGL gave me such a warm welcome, as well as the information needed to quickly embrace and adapt to my new work environment," Maria says.
"My team leaders and colleagues have been supporting me by sharing their knowledge and encouraging me to take opportunities that will help me grow professionally."
Maria believes building greater diversity and inclusion in the field of engineering can help any organisation to attract top talent and drive innovative results.
"Diverse teams are stronger teams," she says. "They are more effective at solving complex problems. Having diverse points of views and skill sets allows better solutions to be found in a faster time period. With greater diversity comes greater economic success."
Nurturing a natural curiosity
Sally Tan has always been interested in how things work, and why they work. Growing up in the Southern suburbs of Adelaide, Sally had a wide range of interests – but she spent most of her time at her parent's family owned restaurant.
"The family business was always a huge part of my life, it taught me a lot about hard work and determination," Sally says.
"From a young age, I was always encouraged to ask lots of 'why' questions and I believe that this is what developed my thirst for knowledge. As I got older, I realised that I could combine my natural curiosity and interests in math and science by choosing to study engineering."
Sally joined AGL earlier this year as an Engineering Graduate and says everyone has been very supportive in helping her to transition from university to the workplace.
"My leaders and colleagues have offered me great advice – and I know that there's always plenty of people willing to help me in any way they can."
Sally's advice for other engineering graduates is to take opportunities as they come and embrace change.
"Be proactive with your work, get involved and ask lots of questions," she says. "It's important that you believe in yourself and know that there are plenty of opportunities to learn and improve."
"The better you know yourself, and the more you believe in yourself – the greater the chance you'll find a satisfying and fulfilling career path," she says.