Gender equity continues to be a major challenge for Australia’s engineering sector
Monday 10 July 2023
A new report released by Professionals Australia shows that gender equity continues to be a major challenge for Australia’s engineering sector, with women facing significant barriers to career promotion and progression and experiencing a much higher degree of gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment compared to their male counterparts.
The Professional Engineers Employment and Remuneration Report 2022/23
surveyed over 1,400 engineers across Australia on matters ranging from pay, conditions, experiences at work and mental health.
Professionals Australia’s CEO Jill McCabe said the report illustrated the significant difficulties women continued to face in Australia’s engineering sector.
“Every Australian has the right to go to work without fear of discrimination and sexual harassment.
“Yet, over half of all female engineers in Australia have experienced gender-based discrimination in the last three years compared with just 6.8 per cent of men.
“22 per cent of women in engineering roles have also experienced sexual harassment compared with just 2.4 per cent of men.
“Consequently, over 34 per cent of women cited discrimination as a major factor for wanting to leave engineering.
“Under no circumstances should women in engineering workplaces be subjected to gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment.
“With Australia projected to experience a shortage of 200,000 engineers by 2040, it’s critical that government and industry take effective action to stamp out discrimination and sexual harassment, and work to develop structures which better support women throughout their engineering careers.
“This includes providing career advancement opportunities, flexible working arrangements and positive workplace cultures and conditions that better support gender equity and meet the needs of women in engineering.”
Ms McCabe said the report also found that engineers across Australia were experiencing high workloads, long hours and significant stress, which was taking a toll on their mental health.
“Across Australia, engineers were experiencing high workplace stress, unreasonable workloads and poor organisational culture.
“Workplace stress is a major issue impacting engineers, with over 45 per cent reporting it as the number one factor negatively impacting their mental health.
“Over 32 per cent reported experiencing unreasonable workloads, and 40 per cent of engineers said they received no additional compensation for overtime hours worked.
“Poor workplace culture also played a major factor in undermining mental health with 24 per cent reporting this as an issue within their organisation.”
Ms McCabe said that engineering employers and government were obligated to ensure that engineers were provided with safe workplaces and sustainable employment.
“Engineering employers and government owe it to our engineers to provide them with workplaces free from discrimination and harassment, and work that is sustainable and which does not undermine their mental health.
“Australia’s engineering sector is fundamentally important in delivering billions in investment supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“If Australia is to maintain its economic prosperity, its critical that we support a safe, healthy and nurturing environment for our engineering workforce, regardless of their gender.”
Media contact: Darren Rodrigo – 0414 783 405
Average engineering wage increase
– 2.3 per cent (2.5 per cent private sector) (2.2 per cent public sector)
Average hours per week
- 42.6 hours, while those employed in teaching or training roles reported working an average of 52.7 hours per week
Key workplace issues impacting mental health.
- Workplace stress - 45 per cent
- Poor management – 35.8 per cent
- Unreasonable workloads - 32 per cent
- 40 per cent of engineers said they received no additional compensation for overtime hours worked.
– over half of female engineers experienced gender-based discrimination compared to 6.8 per cent of men in the last three years.
- 22 per cent of women in engineering roles have also experienced sexual harassment compared with just 2.4 per cent of men.
Critical issues cited by women for wanting to leave the engineering profession
- Lack of recognition - 43 per cent
- Poor workplace culture - 34.8 per cent
- Discrimination - 34.8 per cent