Julie: How to break down gender barriers at uni and in the workplace
Julie is the Chief Development Officer at Robogals Global and is studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at USQ. Julie won the Community Service Award at USQ’s Student Awards at the end of 2014 for her work empowering young women and encouraging them to pursue a career in engineering.
I started my involvement with a range of engineering programs initially from a need for interaction. I was studying engineering externally and didn’t know anyone in my classes or anyone in the field. I was quite lonely, so I decided to give volunteering a go and I haven't looked back. When I first started volunteering I thought that I was going to be doing something for someone else, but once I started, I realised I was probably getting more out of it than they were. I know that many of the people I see in volunteering will not remember me, but I certainly will remember them!
I was the Chief Development Officer of the Toowoomba chapter of Robogals and I am now a part of the Global team as a Development Manager. Robogals is a not for profit, volunteer student-run organisation that runs free robotics and engineering workshops in schools, primarily focused on inspiring more young females into engineering. Currently, this team are working on a Professional Development Program for volunteers and a public repository of resources for teachers and families to use at home. I am also a mentor as part of BEAMS (Building Engagement & Aspirations through Mentoring in Schools) and GEMS (Girls in Engineering Mentors). The BEAMS program puts university student volunteers into classrooms on an ongoing basis, primarily focused on raising the aspirations of school students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to go to university, while the GEMS program puts university student volunteers into classrooms with a focus on getting more young females into engineering.
I am very passionate about providing our youth with options for their future. Helping a child find their path purely by being there, engaging with them and giving them an experience is a wonderful opportunity. Spending time engaging with others in the engineering industry has given me knowledge and experiences I never thought were possible, and has provided me something else to focus on during those times when motivation is low.
We all have off weeks sometimes and often the biggest hurdle is just getting back into it. What motivates me is to succeed for my family, so that I can support them and, in future, inspire my daughter to be what she wants to be. I am also very motivated by others. I am lucky to be surrounded by people with inspiring stories who never fail to amaze me. I am also lucky to be in a position that allows me to spend time volunteering, and this is largely due to having a supportive family and a very understanding husband.
Are you studying or working in a field traditionally dominated by the opposite sex? We'd love to hear about your experiences! If you're interested in a career path similar to Julie's, find out more about studying Engineering or Information Technology at USQ.