After taking part in a recent Women in Engineering event designed to showcase the field to young women starting Year 10, we asked Dr Ruth Oliver to reflect on her time in the industry.
Getting to them early
“I am deeply passionate about gender equity and increasing female participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Whilst the new School of Engineering is growing at a fantastic pace, females still make up less than 15 per cent of the student cohort.
“To change this, I believe we need to reach out to girls while they are still in high school, show them how diverse engineering is and challenge any preconceptions they might have. Engineering is a terrific springboard for many careers, of which I am living proof, currently being on my third career. Studying engineering gave me a strong foundation in maths, physics and computing which has enabled me to work in the fields of medicine, finance and software engineering.”
Don’t be afraid
“My advice for women entering the field is to find a strong mentor who is going to encourage, or even push you from your comfort zone. Since joining Macquarie as an Early Career Researcher last March, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have two wonderful mentors take me under their respective wings; Professor Orsola De Marco from Physics and Astronomy, and Associate Professor Anina Rich from Cognitive Science. What’s been incredibly useful is that both these researchers are from departments other than my own, and this allows me to benefit from the initiatives and experience gained in those more established departments, both on the research and teaching fronts.
“I’m hugely excited to be part of the Biomedical Imaging and Sensing group and to be teaching the new undergraduate specialisation we are offering. This is a fantastic set of four units which apply the principles of physics and engineering to medical imaging and sensing. We have an amazing program lined up for the students, and I believe that our location in the heart of Macquarie Park which offers access to scores of biotech companies, coupled with the onsite hospital and medical imaging facility means that we are uniquely placed in Sydney, if not Australia, to offer this kind of program.”