Narromine's Kaylee Nelson encourages more women to consider engineering

WOMEN REPRESENTED: Kaylee Nelson with Roads and Maritime Services director western region Alistair Lunn and NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey are encouraging more women into male-dominated roles. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
WOMEN REPRESENTED: Kaylee Nelson with Roads and Maritime Services director western region Alistair Lunn and NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey are encouraging more women into male-dominated roles. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Growing up, Kaylee Nelson didn’t know engineers existed, let alone what they did.

She’s now completed her first year at university and is spending her time learning from the Roads and Maritime Services engineers in Dubbo.

RMS is in the process of constructing 100 new overtaking lanes on the Newell Highway. A base will be established in Dubbo to coordinate the work which is expected to bring 100 new jobs.

Roads Minister Melinda Pavey wants women to consider filling those positions, which will range from engineers to surveyors.

“Having that diversity in our workplace is really important for outcomes. It’s just a different mindset. It’s a great job, it’s a good earn and I want women to be involved in any part of the economy where they can contribute in a positive way,” Ms Pavey said.

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Australia was falling behind the United Kingdom and United States when it came to women in trades, she said.

Ms Nelson said it could be overwhelming to be in a male-dominated field.

“It’s a very small population of females in this career. It’s growing but it definitely does need to become a higher population,” Ms Nelson.

“It’s good to experience it because it’s kind of like we’re pioneering the way for other women to come through. They see females like me in a male dominated field and they’re inspired to do it. It is an option for young girls.”

In 2017, women accounted for only 9.1 per cent of machinery operators and drivers, 14.9 per cent of technicians and trade workers and 35.9 per cent of labourers.

The number of women in the traditionally male-dominated fields is slowly growing. Since 2008, the number of women in technicians and trade workers has grown by one per cent each year.

Alternatively, women have the majority of healthcare, social assistance and education positions.

Ms Nelson said she “fell into” maths. From there her careers advisor gave her a form to sign up for a Higher School Certificate scholarship run by the RMS.

“I did and ended up here. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Every year she completes work experience with RMS.

While she hadn’t experienced any discrimination, Ms Nelson said it was a tough industry and like all careers she had faced challenges. However, studying engineering at university had confirmed for the Narromine local that she was in the right industry.

“It’s just being able to be part of the built environment, that’s also been my goal. And to be able to build something that people will be able to use and to design something that’s going to go well into the future and be accessible for everyone.”