Companies support Lucy mentoring for IT and engineering women
This year’s Lucy Mentoring Program has seen increased investment by industry in mentoring young women in the Engineering and Information Technology sectors. Companies such as Westpac, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Thiess and Cisco are now actively encouraging their staff to join the program, which aims to inspire, motivate and equip young women to take up the opportunities available for employment and leadership.
With a record number of applicants, this year saw thirty-seven young female Engineering and IT students graduate from the program, after having completed four-months paired with a mentor in their field. The graduation involved a formal presentation by the students on their experience with their mentor, including tips to pass onto their fellow peers.
One of the Lucy graduates, Ms Parinaz Bilimoria, currently in her last year of a Bachelor of Business Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, recognises the program as a great initiative to empower women to learn from each other in the industry. “I’ve been on the program once before, and found this experience to be completely different from my previous placement. The program has helped me acknowledge that I may face barriers as a female in the IT industry, but that I have the skills and support to achieve any career goal I set my mind to.”
Now with Lucy under her belt, Ms Bilimoria finds that entering the workforce no longer seems as daunting. “I’ve learnt through my time at UTS, and through Lucy, that IT is a diverse field with plenty of opportunities for both the technically-inclined and non-technical professionals. Females are making their mark in this industry and the more role-models we have, the more young females will feel empowered to join the industry.”
For the first time three male engineers from Thiess came on board as Mentors. Reflecting on his experience, Project Manager Paul Anthony suggests, “The program prompted me to see the industry from the female perspective. It pleased me that the female colleagues (engineers and non-engineers) that my mentee and I spoke with in the course of the program find Thiess to be a great company, and engineering to be a great industry to work in. I think more women should know how enjoyable and rewarding an industry it is.”
As a firm believer of mentoring both male and female students, Mr Anthony recognises the need to mentor to attract the bright individuals to the industry. “We need to nurture young talent rather than let it slip away. I feel that any future-oriented person within the industry should take the time to get involved with mentoring.”
Another strong advocate for male and female mentoring was guest speaker at the graduation, Professor of Software Engineering, Didar Zowghi. “I was fortunate enough to have both a male and a female mentor, who made me believe that I can achieve my goals and helped me to find out about opportunities. They both supported me to grab those opportunities in my early years at UTS.”
“There are external and internal barriers that prevent women from getting into leadership positions all over the world. These barriers need to be taken down. For example, it is a well-researched fact that men have an easier time finding the mentors and sponsors who are invaluable for career building and progression. That is one of the reasons why programs like Lucy are so important, and those who support it are to be highly appreciated and commended,” says Professor Zowghi.
Partner Business Consultant and Lucy Program Lead at Cisco Systems, Shae Howard understands mentoring can be daunting, even for the most experienced. She suggests that potential mentors have more to offer than they think. “It is critical for young women’s career advancement to have access to female role models and mentors in the industry. When I was first asked to be a mentor some years ago, I remember questioning whether I was far enough in my career to offer any benefit. I shouldn’t have worried. Your work experience and career journey to date provide critical insight into how to have a successful career in the IT industry.”
Ms Howard confirms, “Mentoring is just as rewarding an experience to the mentor as it is for the mentee, from both a professional and personal perspective.”
UTS is currently the only university in Sydney to offer the Lucy Mentoring Program to Engineering and IT undergraduates.