An underrepresented group of engineers are leading a major dam upgrade project on the Sunshine Coast. 

Female engineers might be under-represented within the construction sector, but on a $24 million upgrade of Ewen Maddock Dam, work is being carried out by women who are full-time on site in numerous engineering positions such as geotechnical engineers, civil engineers and environmental engineers.

Seqwater Principal Dam Engineer Anna Hams says it is encouraging to see greater diversity in gender represented on such a significant project.

“As an engineer, I have certainly noticed a shift over the past decade in terms of more women pursuing engineering as a career,” Ms Hams said.

“In the past, women were discouraged from undertaking studies in the fields of math and science, which ultimately lead to less of an interest in engineering during tertiary studies and beyond.

“Retention in the field was compromised as there was a lack of mentoring and career development opportunities as well as the view that having a career break to have children meant that your engineering career was concluded.“

Ms Hams said she believed having a diverse group of people working on projects offered different perspectives and approaches to solving problems to enable effective delivery and enhanced ways of working.

She said one in four people working in engineering roles at Seqwater are female.

According to a report by Engineers Australia, the proportion of women in the engineering labour force has gradually risen from 10.6 per cent in 2006 to 13.6 per cent in 2016.

The Ewen Maddock Dam upgrade began in March 2020 to strengthen the existing embankment and increase the dam’s floodwater capacity to bring it in line with modern engineering design standards. Improvements will also be made to the dam’s recreation facilities.