Over recent months, dramatic changes to the economic landscape have brought gender issues in the workplace to prominence. As an institution known for its commitment to gender equity within its own walls, the University of Canberra is also creating positive change in its surrounding region.
For alumni and friends of the University of Canberra, funding a scholarship has often been a way to ‘give back’ to the Canberra community. But scholarships are also a means for creating greater change.
The University’s recent scholarship partnering with building and construction industry peak body the National Association for Women in Construction (NAWIC) represents another step toward greater equity and inclusion through construction education.
NAWIC is an Australian, not-for-profit organisation that champions and empower women in the construction and related industries; supporting them to reach their full potential.
NAWIC spokesperson and industry leader, Ms Kim Raysmith describes the importance of their relationship with the University of Canberra “UC covers the whole built environment, with the University as the main hub for construction education in Canberra, so it’s a natural fit with NAWIC’s values”.
The dominant position of the University in construction education puts it in a position to create real, positive change in the industry and region.
In committing to this vision, NAWIC have provided a generous donation of $15,000 over three years to support UC’s Built Environment Inclusion and Diversity (BED&I) Scholarship. NAWIC’s contribution guarantees scholarships for an additional three students through the program.
At a time when students are most struggling financially, these additional scholarships give new hope.
The scholarship seeks to support gender equity, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students from rural and remote areas, students with a disability, and students from refugee backgrounds and is open to students from a range of built environment courses.
This vision for change in the building and construction industry is not just for the three years, but an ongoing hope for the future. Ms Raysmith said NAWIC are “Keen to ensure that scholarship holders are given support and mentoring to succeed in the construction industry. We are putting the word out to ensure that the scholarship is ongoing.”
The initiative and vision of the BED&I Scholarships address not just a question of gender equity, but an economic one too. The industry will benefit from having women involved, says Ms Raysmith.
“Diversity of all types leads to better outcomes. Studies have shown that companies with more women show improved dynamics in the workplace, leading to greater productivity. It’s important to change the perception and the culture of the industry.”
The University of Canberra continues to be a destination for industry groups seeking to create a better world through the support of students.
As industry and individual sponsors continue to pledge support for the scholarship program, the University of Canberra will continue to grow as a leader of inclusion and diversity in the built environment industry.