By Nancy Nguyen, UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship recipient and current student of the University of Sydney Business School MBA program
Being awarded the UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship has empowered me to be part of a movement shaping the next generation of female leaders, particularly in the field of Science Technology Engineering Mathematic (STEM).
Why? Because women in STEM roles can help close the gender gap through innovation, share their talent through increased representation, and be heard in formal decision making processes whilst increasing their earnings by 33%, a move critical for closing the gender pay gap.
I currently work in the male dominated Oil and Gas industry, where unconscious biases which limit roles and opportunity provided to women still exist. Women comprise half the population, however in Australia only 28% of STEM type roles are occupied by women. This is further exacerbated by lack of representation in undergraduate degrees, where women hold a relatively low share of STEM undergraduate degrees (33%). In addition, further attrition is observed as a result of women leaving the profession, and cultural and occupational segregation, limiting women in leadership and senior executive roles.
On reflection, even for me in my early career I denied that there was ever a gender issue, as I thought I was “making it” by working on drill rigs with the boys. Yet looking back, I realised that I was the only female working on the drill rig, and my company only had one female executive, in an organisation of over 3000 people.
The UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship has provided me with the exposure and confidence to empower others to have open and honest discussions on issues regarding gender, such as stereotypes about what roles women should hold, perceptions regarding likeability and success and myths surrounding professional career and family. For me, raising awareness about the benefits of STEM roles and representing women in leadership STEM positions by keeping the door open has been a truly rewarding part of building this legacy.
Being part of the University of Sydney Business School’s MBA program and connecting with the UN Women NC Australia network has provided me with the privilege to learn from strong successful women such as Senator Michaelia Cash, Catherine Livingston, Julie McKay and Elizabeth Broderick to name a few. I hope to continue building on these extraordinary relationships to further grow my leadership skills.
I am proud to be part of the collaborative efforts between the Australian National Committee for UN Women and the University of Sydney Business School to shape a future for our next generation of strong successful women, as I firmly believe this central to building a prosperous sustainable future – this is my “Future Anything”!
If you are considering apply for the scholarship, my advice to applicants is to have a clear conviction of what you want to achieve as a change agent representing the needs of women globally. Be honest, be authentic and don’t be afraid to share your vulnerabilities in the journey you have experienced to date.
After all, the trials and tribulations we experience as individuals is what makes us unique and resilient.
Applications are open for the $60,000 UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship for 2016. Learn more and apply now.