UNIQ service helping girls break into under-represented roles Business

23rd March 2021

Queensland-based not-for-profit UNIQ YOU has announced Urban Utilities as the first foundational sponsor to throw their support behind a ground-breaking new service committed to increasing the number of high school girls considering and pursing roles within industries currently under-represented by women.

While many of the messages promoted during the recent International Women’s Day celebrations showed some gains toward gender equality, the statistics within some of Australia’s largest industries were still confronting with the number of women working in so-called ‘non-traditional’ roles in resources increasing from just 14 per cent in 2018/19 to almost 17 per cent in 2019/2020, and the proportion of women in trade careers rising from a low 4.8 per cent in 2018/19 to 7.4 per cent in 2019/20 (QRC 2021).

UNIQ YOU CEO Tanya Meessmann has spent the past three years providing on-site work exposure for over 450 high school girls, their educators and parents through her social enterprise Girl Shaped Flames, and believes bringing secondary school career advice into the 21st Century is key.

“We can see from women currently working in roles and industries with female under-representation that there is passion, motivation and commitment once they’re there,” she said.

“But a severe lack of knowledge, understanding and visibility of pathways into industries such as mining, utilities, trades, manufacturing and STEM is blocking the pipeline to move girls from high school into these sectors. To really shift the needle we don’t just need 20 or 50 more high schools girls considering what was once seen as ‘non-traditional’ pathways. We need thousands.”

UNIQ YOU has been designed to also open up access to a richer career advisory experience to girls in regional and remote areas while simultaneously providing career and guidance officers with a more comprehensive understanding of non-traditional pathways.

Urban Utilities CEO, Louise Dudley, said they were pleased to support an innovative program that would help provide girls with wider career choices.

“The utilities sector has about 22 per cent female participation overall, so there is still more opportunity to encourage a higher number of women into the industry,” she said.

“I believe creating an inclusive and diverse culture is the key to encouraging more women to consider working in water.

“Through this program, we’ll be able to help teenage girls connect with women who are leaders in a range of fields such as engineering, science and technology.

“We’re also excited about the benefits the partnership will bring Urban Utilities such as helping us to attract and retain talent, encourage new ideas and support innovation.”  

The exciting new virtual platform is being developed to facilitate over 600 information-packed video calls between 600 high school girls and their Career Officers with over 100 female advisors working in industries and roles currently under-represented by women during the first 12 months of operation in Queensland.

As participating sponsors in the initiative, companies like Urban Utilities will be able to offer a number of their female staff the opportunity to ‘give back’ by advising high school girls 1:1 about their experiences, pathways and on-site insights, while simultaneously increasing the quality of pathway information being made available to career and guidance officers.

With key Queensland industries such as construction, mining and transport becoming more vocal about gender diversity in their sectors, innovative initiatives like this are a welcome sign that more is being done to address this critical pipeline issue.

Contact CEO Tanya Meessmann for more information: [email protected]  

Interested in significantly growing the pipeline of young women into your organisation?

We're currently inviting corporate partners onboard for the launch of UNIQ YOU - a ground-breaking new D&I service focused on increasing the number of high school girls considering and pursuing pathways into under-represented industries and roles.