University Collaboration Network

The University of Queensland (UQ) Women in Engineering program was established in 2013 as the first program of its kind in Australia, with the goal of increasing undergraduate female enrolment into engineering programs to 30 per cent by 2023.

The University Collaboration Workshop, initiated in 2016, is a network of university groups across Australia and New Zealand, aimed at sharing knowledge and experience to increase female participation in engineering on a national scale. The workshops are held biennially and focus on marketing and recruiting female students, engaging with schools, parents and teachers, as well as other universities and industry.

University Collaboration Workshop 2023 – Driving Gender Equity in STEM: From Local to National Action

Last year’s workshop was held by the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia. The two-day workshop brought together researchers, educators, industry partners, and policy makers to share their experiences, insights, and best practices on how to promote and support women in STEM fields. The participants heard from inspiring keynote speakers, took part in interactive collaboration sessions, learned about the latest initiatives and grants, and engaged with peers and mentors, contributing to the development of a national action plan for advancing gender equity in STEM. 

University Collaboration Network 2023


History of the University Collaboration Workshop

2016 – To Diversity and Beyond
Location: Brisbane

In the inaugural workshop in 2016, 18 university groups from across Australia and New Zealand attended the two-day event at the St Lucia campus in Brisbane. The keynote speaker, Dr. Beth Myers from the University of Colorado, presented the initiatives that increased female enrolment at CU College of Engineering and Applied Science from 20% to 33% over eight years.

UQ's Marketing and Communications Manager for the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture, and IT, Trent Leggatt, presented the development of UQ’s Women in Engineering program. Mike Griffin, Chief Executive of the Australian Power Institute, presented a workshop on involving industry.

During the workshop, the university groups collaborated in identifying best practices in marketing and recruiting female students, engaging with schools, parents and teachers, as well as other universities and industry.

The key lessons learned included reviewing admission policies, increasing scholarships offered to females, creating campaigns that follow the Changing the Conversations initiative, increasing activities with teachers to be more effective in reaching the masses, reviewing the effectiveness of programs by surveying students and data analysis, and emphasizing the link between studying science and maths and future careers.

2018 – Engineering a Diverse Future
Location: Melbourne 

The 2018 collaboration workshop was held at the RMIT campus in Melbourne, with 15 university groups from Australia and New Zealand and industry representatives in attendance. The focus was to design a strategy to increase female participation in engineering studies, focusing on three key areas: Student Engagement, Teacher Engagement, and Connect and Collaborate.

The group collectively designed a strategy that identified further opportunities to increase female participation in engineering studies, which included marketing and branding, mentoring programs, teacher education, and connecting and collaborating.

2019 – Collaborating for Diversity
Location: Sydney

In 2019, it was decided by the Network to increase the workshops to an annual frequency rather than once every two years. The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) co-hosted the Women in Engineering and IT symposium event. The theme of the symposium was Collaborating for Diversity across the university sector, together with industry, schools, and government bodies to deepen the collective impact of increasing diversity in STEM degrees and professions.

The symposium had over 100 attendees, and Origin Energy, Gold sponsors of the symposium, hosted the lunch and learn session on Day 1, where they shared their research conducted with Engineers without Borders on Engineering Redefined, which explored the links between Humanitarian Engineering and gender diversity.

2020 / 2021 – Postponed due to COVID-19

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the workshop was unfortunately postponed in 2020 and 2021. The organizers closely monitored the situation and followed guidelines from local health authorities to ensure the safety of participants.

While it was disappointing to delay the workshop, it was the right decision and we were committed to bringing it back in a hybrid format to allow for physical collaboration without the need for extensive travel, as well as virtual meetings Nationwide so that our teams could connect as we would have with the original format.

2022 – University Collaboration Workshop - Hybrid Event
Location: Physical state-wide workshops & Virtual National Presentation

The 2022 workshop was hosted by UQ and supported by host universities in each state of Australia. The event was held in-person and online as a hybrid event, to accommodate teams that were unable to travel due to ongoing restrictions.

A total of 71 people from 30 university teams across Australia and New Zealand joined together for the two-day event, making it our largest collaboration workshop yet. The event was inspirational and insightful and provided an opportunity to come together, learn from one another, and move forward as a collective.