SA Water has partnered with the University of Adelaide’s Women in STEM Careers Program (WiSC) to deliver more career opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The three-year partnership deal will allow up to 300 female students to use the WiSC program in the coming years to take part in various workshops and networking events designed to improve their leadership and career development.

The program will also provide a platform for future graduate employment opportunities.

The announcement coincided with International Women’s Day, with the 2020 theme of #EachforEqual calling to action for gender parity while celebrating the social, cultural and political achievements of women from across the world.

SA Water’s General Manager of Customers, Strategy and Innovation, Anna Jackson, said the utility has already taken on four graduates and undergraduates through the program.

“STEM is an area that has historically been seen as underrepresented by women, and while we join other businesses around the world in celebrating International Women’s Day…we recognise the importance of continuing to work every day to improve gender balance,” Ms Jackson said.

“This is one of the largest university initiatives in Australia designed to grow leadership and career opportunities for female students in STEM, and we’re excited to be extending our involvement with the program and the platform it provides to build confidence and employability.

“We’ve set an ambitious yet achievable goal of the number of female graduates joining our business to reach at least 60 per cent by 2024, and we’re making good progress with over half of our STEM graduates and 43 per cent of total graduates being female.

“We are also proud to have achieved a gender pay gap of zero per cent, which when first achieved in 2017 had a national average of more than 15 per cent.”

SA Water Graduate Engineer Emily Hack, who last year completed her Civil and Structural Engineering and Science double degree at the University of Adelaide, said the WiSC program provided her a platform to begin a career in the water industry.

“Having started my studies unsure about the professional path I could take and whether I could make it as an engineer, being part of WiSC gave me the skills to tackle real-world challenges, and eventually the ability to join SA Water,” Ms Hack said.

“I gained so much through the program, and love coming to work every day and knowing that the work I do really does make a difference to the lives of many South Australians.”

The University of Adelaide’s Interim Executive Dean of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, Professor Katrina Falkner, said strong industry support for the program has highlighted its relevance to potential employers.

“Since the Women in STEM Careers program began in 2017, 300 female students have benefited from the personal and professional development,” Professor Falkner said.

“Students have been challenged to lay a foundation upon which they can build their careers in STEM, and they have risen to that challenge, with many of our students increasing their networks and employability skills.

“The University of Adelaide has a long history of commitment to gender equity and has recently been recognised for efforts to improve gender equity and diversity, receiving the Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award, the highest level of this award available in Australia.

“We are excited about our continuing partnership with SA Water and look forward to their involvement with our students in promoting and enhancing women’s involvement in STEM careers.”

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