Improving gender equity in Engineering improves standards.
Why did UTS apply for permission to introduce adjustment points for 2020 women applications?
UTS is taking this action now to address the long-standing wide gender disparity in students applying for undergraduate courses in both engineering and IT.
A breakdown of 2018 enrolment offers in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology (FEIT) by gender, school and course shows 17% of students enrolled in degrees offered by the Faculty are women. This statistic is reflected in the Australian workforce, where approximately 13% of all engineers are women, and less than 20% of technical roles in IT are filled by women.
This is not new; women are still statistically underrepresented in engineering and IT women still face indirect discrimination which makes it harder for them to become engineers, construction and IT professionals.
For which courses can women receive adjustment factors?
- Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Diploma in Professional Engineering Practice
- Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Bachelor of Arts in International Studies;
- Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Bachelor of Business;
- Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Bachelor of Architecture;
- Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Bachelor of Product Design;
- Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation;
- Bachelor of Information Technology
- Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, Diploma in Professional IT Practice
- Bachelor of Computing Science (Honours)
- Bachelor of Science in Games Development
- Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, Bachelor of Business
- Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, Bachelor of Arts in International Studies
- Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation
- Bachelor of Construction Project Management
(Note: the engineering and IT courses combined with the Bachelor of Laws are not included)
How do adjustment points work?
Adjustment points do not change an ATAR. For Year 12 students who have adjustment points, their selection rank for each preference = ATAR + adjustment points. Refer to the UAC website for more detail.
Adjustment points are awarded for various reasons, such as performance in relevant HSC subjects, living or attending school in an area defined by the institutions, and consideration through Educational Access Schemes.
Adjustment point schemes are different for each institution and often for each course at the same institution. This means that a student’s selection rank can be different for each course listed in their course preferences.
UTS has a minimum requirement of 69 ATAR points for its degrees. Adjustment is made only for those applicants whose ATAR is 69 or higher and therefore any and all offers made are to students who satisfy this UTS minimum entry requirement.
Is this adjustment discriminatory?
UTS has applied to and received permission from, the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board to apply adjustment points (and advertise this) for women applicants from 2020. The Board allows exemptions to favour a particular group of people – as in this case of UTS’s adjustment points for women applicants to these degrees - when it helps redress past or present discrimination. The Board supports our arguments that the adjustment factor is needed for women in non-traditional areas of engineering and IT and construction to achieve greater gender diversity in these industry sectors.
We have received a 10-year exemption under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW).
Who is eligible?
Women domestic students who achieve a minimum ATAR of 69.00 (not including any other adjustment factors) applying through the Universities Admission Centre (UAC) and satisfying any additional application requirements outlined in the course descriptions.
Are you creating a target or a quota?
The long-term aim is for the representation of women and men in engineering, IT and construction undergraduate degrees to reflect society and we acknowledge it may take some time to achieve this goal, hence the approval for 10-year exemption.
Will this privilege women applicants over men?
Application of these adjustment points expects to increase the number of eligible women applicants by approximately 8%, enlarging the ‘pipeline’ for tertiary study in these areas, and for potential careers in high growth industries experiencing skills shortage. For some particularly male-dominated courses, the increase in women is expected to be as large as 30% which will catalyse much-needed gender equity in the classroom, improving learning outcomes for all students. Women will benefit from reduced isolation and tokenism and men will benefit from diversity of thought and better ability to solve complex problems.
Will men applicants be disadvantaged?
All offers of placement are awarded on selection rank with the intention to widen the potential pool of women applicants in order to attract more women to FEIT and Construction degrees. This will provide more graduates with the profile to meet the shortage of skilled professionals in Australia.
Is UTS confident that students with lower ATAR will cope with the courses?
The ATAR required for acceptance into a course is a function of the demand for the course, the number of places available and the quality of the students who apply. It is not a measure of the degree of difficulty of the course or the standard required to pass the course. The new selection criteria will still admit students who have the ability, with the right approach to study, to pass the course. UTS has found no correlation between students who received adjustment factors in the past and their academic performance in Engineering and IT courses.
All students admitted to courses must satisfy the same degree requirements of examinations, tests, studios and internships.
Furthermore, increased interest in applying to these courses by women will create a larger pool of applicants, which can increase the ATAR required in any given year.
Will the new selection criteria [the gender adjustment points] mean the Faculty will have a lower standard of student? For team projects, will weaker students bring down the standard overall?
Research demonstrates that gender diverse teams (both in the classroom and in the workplace) are more effective, in solving complex problems and being innovative – essential in Engineering and IT. An ATAR is not necessarily an accurate guide to the performance or contribution of a student in a team environment. All students must satisfy UTS degree requirements and there is no lowering of standards in classwork, studios or assessments e.g., examinations, tests, assignments etc.
Will women have to work harder to prove they have a right to be at university if they were admitted with an adjusted ATAR score?
Students who receive adjustment factors under other schemes e.g. School Recommendation Scheme, Elite Athlete etc. are not expected to prove they deserve their place in the program. Once here, all students have to study and pass all the same subjects/assignments. Adjusting points is just one initiative to make it more feasible for young women to gain a university place in the highly gendered courses of engineering, IT and construction. The standards required to succeed in each of our courses will not change.
Could women students experience lower confidence/legitimacy when aware that adjustment point were applied to give them entry?
Yes, and this is why women students studying at UTS are empowered through mentoring programs with industry and through a community of support. Seeing and experiencing greater gender diversity in classrooms and in industry will grow confidence in their capabilities and capacity to have successful studies leading to fulfilling careers. Tertiary success depends on many factors, including personal attributes such as ability and motivation.
Our Faculty’s Women in Engineering and IT program aims to support women by providing a sense of belonging and community through initiatives such as a first year buddy program and the Lucy Mentoring program which creates 1:1 relationships with professionals in key industries.
What support will women FEIT and Construction students receive while at UTS?
The Women in Engineering and IT group was established over 35 years ago to develop industry networks that support our students with professional and personal mentors, on-site placements and formal/informal opportunities to share the knowledge and experience accrued by women already working in industry.
A UTS Women in Construction Group was established more recently to mentor and support women enrolled in the Bachelor of Construction Project Management, and is working closely with the National Association for Women in Construction.
How is UTS going to make its FEIT and Construction courses more appealing to women applicants?
Through STEM initiatives in primary and high school, we are showing girls and young women how they can see themselves participating in some of the most dynamic industries key to shaping Australia’s future. They provide women role models for students, and give them hands-on opportunities in engineering and IT activities to grow their understanding of potential careers.
UTS course content is authentic and industry-focused, demonstrating how students can contribute to their own and other communities by applying the knowledge and skills they acquire at UTS.
Is UTS the only university giving adjustment points to women for degrees dominated by men?
There are many other universities and organisations that have exemptions for recruitment, scholarships and fellowships and you can see these on the Anti-Discrimination website. Other universities can and do make adjustments to selection rank and offer different admission pathways. Adjustment of ranking and entry schemes appear under different names and you would have to look at each university to know what they offer.
Does industry support your action?
The workforce of the future needs STEM-qualified people. Currently, only 16% of STEM qualified people are women (Chief Scientist’s Report 2016). Industry Advisory Boards provide input to the Faculties on key decision affecting their sectors. Attracting more women into engineering, IT and construction property management is a key objective and the respective professional bodies were consulted to help determine this UTS position.
Why not support other young men to study these subjects?
We do so already through the existing UTS Widening Participation Strategy which provides pathways for male students to study Engineering and IT.
What is the ratio of men to women teaching in FEIT?
Three of the seven Heads of School in FEIT are women. Women in teaching roles in FEIT are trending upwards and currently at approximately 30% .
Is UTS planning to create targets or quotas in its FEIT teaching roles?
UTS has a target of having 40% of academic positions in STEMM filled by women by 2022 and this extends to the Faculty of Engineering and IT.
Are there other degrees at UTS looking to boost women applications?
Not at this stage.