Celebrating women in engineering

Posted: 1pm 23 Jun 2021
By Breeana Roberts

Unitywater is shining a light on three of its female engineers on International Women in Engineering Day today.

The three in the spotlight are Mansi O’Keeffe, Lucy Shoobridge, and Kelcey Miller.

International Women in Engineering Day celebrate the work and achievements of women engineers.

Unitywater recognises the role it plays in paving the way for women in key technical and trade roles in areas including the Moreton Bay Region.

The company aims to build a diverse and inclusive workplace for all of its team members.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency benchmark, as of March 2021, Unitywater had 38.3 per cent females in its workforce, compared to 25.6 per cent females in the Electricity, Gas, Water and Wastewater Services Industry.

The utility aims to encourage women into STEM and water industry careers through schools and universities and has introduced programs to attract and retain women in technical and trade roles.

Breaking down barriers

Three of the women engineers at Unitywater have some advice for young girls who are afraid to challenge social norms and be themselves.

Mansi O’Keeffe is a Senior Technical Officer in her second year at Unitywater.

She says she wants to pass on her parents’ advice to girls who want more than society tells them they can have.

“Just because it has been a certain way, or you think it's too hard, or you have been told you’re not allowed to … so what? What are you going to do about it?,” she explains.

Mansi travelled extensively across the globe as a child due to her parents’ work commitments and says her engineering inspiration came from watching people in war-torn Middle East make the best of the resources that were available to them.

She watched people deal with water scarcity, grow produce in sub-zero temperatures, and not waste a single resource in any process.

Mansi says she admires their optimism and caring ways despite the challenges they face.

“They say necessity is the mother of innovation but engineering innovative, safe and cost-effective solutions to adapt to changing landscapes and for survival has proven equally important," she says.

Mansi says belonging to an organisation that provides space for learning and growth is crucial for the journey ahead.

“We have remarkable leaders at Unitywater, who mentor, lead, and coach, and having that support makes a big difference especially in the difficult times,” she explains.

Take the plunge

Lucy Shoobridge is an Infrastructure Planning Unit Leader and says to “do it.”

“There are so many different avenues you can go down. It offers such flexibility and transferable skills and allows you to work anywhere.”

Her inspiration to pursue engineering came from her father, who “was an accountant by trade but an engineer at heart," she says.

“Growing up there was a lot of time spent in the garage 'engineering'.”

Lucy, an engineer for 16 years including three years at Unitywater, says her career highlight has been the opportunity to work on water and wastewater projects across the country and the inspiring people she has met.

A typical day consists of planning for future water and wastewater projects for the Moreton Bay Region, Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.

“I love working as part of an essential service, within an organisation that has the community at their core,” she says.

“I play a part in planning infrastructure projects that will be around to service future generations.”

Don't change to fit the mould

Kelcey Miller, Treatment Services Project Engineer says to “be yourself”.

“Being a female engineer doesn't define you. You are female and you are an engineer. Don't feel the need to change who you are to fit the mould,” she says.

Kelcey’s strengths in maths and science directed her towards engineering.

She took part in the Unitywater graduation program in 2019, and says she wanted a career that she could be proud of.

“It’s really rewarding working to provide for the community I live in,” she says.

“I loved seeing a platypus in the Obi Obi Creek out in Maleny, knowing that the work we do allows them to thrive. Platypus are hard to spot in the wild and are generally seen to be an indicator of good water quality and aquatic habitat.”

Inspiring the next generation

The message Unitywater and these women engineers want to convey to young girls is that it’s okay to do what you want and to not listen to the people who try to hold you back.

In their view, engineering is a brilliant path to take in order to progress and use talents in maths and science.

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