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Climbing high on International Women’s Day

14 March 2018
Inspiring stories and female mentorship atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Whilst taking in breathtaking views of the city, these four high achieving young women were treated to a unique BridgeClimb experience with inspiring mentors in engineering and technology.

Four young academic stars from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies had an inspiring start to International Women’s Day as they began their 134-metre ascent of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Accompanying the young women on the iconic structure were Professor Elanor Huntington, the first female Dean of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University, and Julia Manolova Ratnayake, Works Manager at the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Professor Elanor Huntington with four young female students atop the Sydney Harbour bridge with picturesque background of the Opera House.

Left to right: Professor Elanor Huntington, Ying Luo, Sarah Murphy, Lexi Brent and Sabina Davidson

Professor Huntington remains one of the few female Deans of engineering and information technologies faculties in the world. Dedicated to attracting young women to STEMM, Professor Huntington invited these young women to climb to the top of the bridge with her to share her success story and provide an opportunity for these aspiring students to ask questions about careers in these fast-growing industries. “It’s so important to encourage the increase of young women in the engineering field and to highlight the incredible opportunities that are available to them”, says Professor Huntington.

“Elanor told us that she listened to her mother’s advice to 'quietly take your space'. This really resonated with me.  We often hear that women need to be more aggressive, to be bold, and to stand up for ourselves. But I think this goes against a lot of women's nature. This worried me and made me conclude that women were doomed to backstage roles. However, to hear that someone like Elanor - hugely successful in her career - didn’t necessarily have to be loud and aggressive, was very reassuring and an inspiration to me”, said Sabina Davidson, who is currently studying her Masters in Project Management.

What better place to inspire these young women to reach their highest potential...
Julia Ratnayake, Works Manager at the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The back drop of the Sydney’s stunning harbour provided a surreal setting for these students to contemplate their future in engineering and information technologies. “What better place to inspire these young women to reach their highest potential than from the summit of one of Australia’s most impressive engineering feats”, says Julia.

The students chosen for this experience were four of the top five performing female students across the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies at the University of Sydney. “The opportunity to gain advice from females in industry and academia who have excelled in a male-dominated profession was definitely my highlight. Their experience and guidance was especially insightful as a soon-to-be graduate”, said Ying Luo.

Each year International Women’s Day marks the growing push for gender parity, calling friends, colleagues and communities to come together and take part in this essential discourse. This bridge climb is yet just one example of how we can take action in supporting brave young women choosing to pursue traditionally male dominated industries.