Internship opens career pathways

The Edith Dornwell Women in STEM internship has given Flinders University Mechanical Engineering (Honours) graduate Shiva Rouholfada a great headstart in her career.

After graduating as a fully qualified engineer, she was able to walk into a 12-week internship with leading engineering, architecture, environmental and constructions services company GHD in South Australia. Ms Rouholfada continues to work as a casual employee at the Adelaide office.

The internship provides a transition from study to employment and honours Edith Dornwell, the first woman in Australia to graduate with a science degree.

The Office for Women developed the Edith Dornwell Internship for Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Funded by the Department of State Development Office of Science, Technology and Research, the internship provides one woman each year with three months full time or six months part time fully paid employment within an organisation whose focus is on STEM.

The stint with GHD’s Building Engineering Services team in Adelaide saw Ms Rouholfada contribute to the mechanical components of multi-disciplinary projects.

“I enjoyed the challenge of a range of technical challenges in my day-to-day work, many related to air- conditioning and ventilation systems,” she says.

“In my experience, this once predominantly male industry is becoming increasingly open to diversity and the benefits it brings. There’s definitely a place for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

GHD’s SA Manager Ms Van Tang says the company is an Employer of Choice for Gender Equity.

“We are proud to support this initiative which honours Australia’s first woman to graduate in science. Students and graduates are the future of our consulting business,” Ms Tang says.

“We have welcomed 10 graduates to our South Australian office this year as part of our long-standing commitment to create opportunities for both women and men who share our passion for serving clients and the community.”

Ms Zoe Bettison, the Minister for the Status of Women, says the scholarship aims to support more female graduates in STEM (and Medicine) courses to progress into, and remain in, the workforce.

“Although women complete more tertiary study than men, there is a consistent lack of women undertaking STEM-related degrees,” Ms Bettison says.

“To counter this trend, we need to support young women into these workplaces which also are often male dominated.”

“The transition from study to employment is one of the key points where women drop out of STEM, and the Edith Dornwell Internship for Women in STEM has raised awareness and helped to counter this in our State.”

Edith Emily Dornwell was the first woman in Australia to graduate with a Science degree, the first woman to graduate from the University of Adelaide and the first person, male or female, to graduate with a science degree from the University of Adelaide in 1885 with first class honours in physics and physiology.

At her graduation, the University’s Chancellor Chief Justice Sir Samuel Way said: “In your distinguished undergraduate career, and in the manner in which you have taken taken that degree, you have not merely done honour to the University, but you have vindicated the right of your sex to compete, and to compete on equal terms, with other undergraduates for the honours and distinctions of the University.”


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