Engineers Fiji, formerly known as the Fiji Institute of Engineers, has been and will continue to strongly advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment in engineering.
Engineers Fiji Council Member, Mr Niranjwan Chettiar confirmed that work is underway to establish a partnership with local higher education institutions to strengthen and encourage females to pursue engineering programmes.
“Engineers Fiji is establishing partnerships with Tertiary Institutions to assist Curriculum Development and encourage females to take up engineering programmes. The reward system ensures female engineering students are motivated throughout their studies at tertiary institutions. This partnership and reward would enable high retention of female students across the engineering programmes,” he said.
“An ongoing equity issue is females’ uptake of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers. The women bring a different skill set, experience and requirements that could be supported and encouraged. Despite the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 focusing on Gender Equality, the STEM subjects have the principles of addressing all 17 SDGs encompassing social, economic and environmental challenges. STEM subjects are the backbone of digital transformation, medical, health, economic development, infrastructure development, political engagement and international collaboration,” Mr Chettiar clarified.
The institute, in recent years, has been actively collaborating with The University of the South Pacific (USP) in sponsoring outstanding graduates in engineering, particularly females who have completed the programmes and are now making waves in the industry.
Mr Chettiar said such programmes would like to witness the likes of Blessing Mable Daphne Grace Elaise, a graduate of USP, setting the benchmark for female students to continue breaking stereotypes in the field of Engineering.
Elaise was among those that graduated from USP last month and was awarded the Engineers Fiji Prize for the Best Performing Graduating student of the Bachelor of Engineering programme.
She was thankful for the support and encouragement from the institution as she wanted to take up civil engineering to change the narrative and be a catalyst for young girls to make them believe that anything is possible.
“Here I am, a young lady in a male-dominated field, now graduating in this field, and I hope to change how society looks at things. If it is too far-fetched to accept gender equality, we could turn to gender acceptance. This is, specifically, in my field. It was a tremendous shift in terms of entering the workforce,” she said.
Elaise plans to join an engineering industry that will not accept her as a female engineer but as one who is competent in holding her weight in the industry.
The youngest of three siblings acknowledged her course coordinators, parents for their support and Engineers Fiji for sponsoring the special award she received last month.