Switching girls on to STEM

STEM

Kim Rutter, a civil engineer turned lecturer at the University of Canterbury, is leading the charge to get Kiwi girls interested in STEM.

Getting young women interested in STEM careers starts by changing the way girls are introduced to these subjects. Kim Rutter is doing her part to help shape future female engineers by creating a summer camp for girls.

Kim is the academic lead of WiE CAN, a free camp that aims to turn 60 young women participants into potential future engineers.

Run for the first time in 2019, the four-day programme attracted 266 applicants, who participated in workshops and heard from inspiring speakers from a range of backgrounds across the industry. Kim says highlights included Emily Melhuish from Rocket Lab, the Canterbury Chair of Engineers Without Borders and Mechanical Engineer at Beca Abigail Neave, and Alison Andrews, the CEO of Transpower, all of whom are passionate engineers in New Zealand.

“It was part of our commitment to the Diversity Agenda and engineering. It’s all very well to sign up and say you’re going to be a Founding Partner, but you have to do something.”

Kim shared that Professor Jan Evans-Freeman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the College of Engineering at University of Canterbury, created the programme as a concrete measure to increase diversity. “It was part of our commitment to the Diversity Agenda and engineering. It’s all very well to sign up and say you’re going to be a Founding Partner, but you have to do something,” Rutter stated.

Wie Can isn’t the only initiative brewing in the College of Engineering. Kim says they’re also looking at how to retain women, as well as attract them.

University of Canterbury is a great example of a Diversity Agenda member that has embraced the essence of the Diversity Agenda’s mission to get more women to stick with STEM. They identified where there was a need and created a programme to address the heart of the issue.

For more information about the ‘WiE CAN’ programme visit their website or if you would like to get involved email  kim.rutter@canterbury.ac.nz.

Kim Rutter is the Director of the Master of Engineering Management programme at the University of Canterbury (UC). Her recent move into the WIE CAN role is a result of her association with Engineering New Zealand and personal interest in diversity in engineering.

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