Women in engineering – breaking down stereotypes

I have a successful career in Australia and although it has not been an easy path, it has been worth it. I am a role model for women in engineering, demonstrating how hard work, tenacity, constant learning, embracing your fears and maintaining an attitude to just keep going for it, will bring results – Ivette Nino, Pensar Site Engineer.

A recent article by Brisbane Times, highlighted the decrease in female Engineers in Australia with only 15 per cent of all graduate engineers this year being female – which is down on the 10-year average of 20 per cent.

As highlighted by Brisbane Times, a recurring issue many women face is that they don’t often think they could be good engineers, thanks to a lack of role models and existing negative stereotypes combining to curb girls’ ambitions. Ivette Nino, Pensar Site Engineer, is passionate about this topic and eager to break down the negative stereotypes that might be holding girls back from considering engineering as a career path. As a female engineer who has been involved in the delivery of the Cross River Rail project, Ivette was inspired to speak out after reading the recent Brisbane Times article – Women are essential to delivering Cross River Rail.

Ivette faced a number of challenges breaking into the Australian construction industry being both female and originally from Venezuela, with English her second language.

“Securing a role in the industry in Australia proved a challenge. However, my drive and determination to succeed paid off when I followed up on a role with Pensar. My proactiveness and tenacity won an interview with Reese Deaves, Director of Civil Infrastructure, who saw my determination and passion to work in the industry as aligned with the group’s core values.”


“I believe the determination and tenacity I showed to obtain my position with Pensar and that I carry through in my daily role is not limited to me, other female engineers I have had the opportunity to work with show the same passion for the industry and commitment to delivering the best outcomes for their project. Once the negative stereotypes surrounding women in engineering are broken down and females understand the role, it’s an exciting industry to be a part of. It is a shame that the number of all graduate women engineers will be less this year and that this could be a result of misleading stereotypes – the industry needs more women, the opportunities are endless.”

Ivette has had the opportunity to work on notable projects such as the Gateway Upgrade North and Cross River Rail Roma Street Coach Terminal Relocation. Ivette was selected by IAQ to join the Emerging Professionals in Infrastructure Queensland (EPIQ) task force, where she meets with other emerging infrastructure leaders to contribute to the long-term direction of the infrastructure industry.

As an industry, construction struggles to attract females. It is commonly considered to be a male dominated industry, leading to the assumption that females will continually struggle to fit in or be viewed as equal among their peers. Although this gender imbalance is common across job sites, Ivette does not see this as a negative or deterrent and through her experiences she has always been treated as an equal among her team members.

“I have often been the only female on a job site but I don’t see this as a negative, diversity fosters creativity and learning. Many of my role models have been male, working in diverse teams has only made me a better engineer. Adam Bruschi, Pensar Project Engineer, has mentored and helped me develop as an engineer and become a respected woman in the industry. Diversity is key to the success of any industry and particularly construction, if you don’t have diversity then you don’t have innovation and you don’t have creativity, both necessary to add value to projects.”


I want to be a role model for women to encourage them to have a vision and a purpose to succeed in the industry. As an EPIQ (Industry Taskforce) member, I am part of the next generation of infrastructure sector leaders – a mixed group of role models who have a fresh approach to infrastructure and problem-solving solutions. I am responsible for mentoring the undergraduate engineers at Pensar and I am excited to be mentoring my first female student.

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