Seher Ata is an Associate Professor here at the School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering. Her primary duties include teaching, academic advising and counselling of students, research and scholarly activity, and services that are vital to supporting and sustaining the quality and effectiveness of programs in the university.
She also actively promotes diversity and equity within the engineering faculty as a member of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. For Assoc. Prof. Ata, IWD is about ‘raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality while also honouring women around the world for their contributions to society at large.’
Assoc. Prof. Ata is proud to be part of the minerals and energy resources industry as it is a major contributor to the Australian economy due to its employment openings and creation of wealth within the community.
In order to break the biases in that women face in the minerals and energy resources industry, as well as the engineering industry as a whole. ‘We should make engineering careers more attractive to women, create conditions for retaining them in the workforce and help them reach their career potential’. She says.
As a means to encourage more women to fill in the gender gap, Assoc. Prof. Ata proclaims that ‘actions must be taken to ensure women are given equal opportunities in both diversity and inclusion’. As the industry has a low percentage of women, ‘concrete steps should be taken to accelerate the closing of the gender pay gap and the achievement of pay equity’.
UNSW is exceptionally supportive of diversity, promoting women in engineering as well as the university as a whole but Assoc. Prof. Ata still faces stereotypes from the outside community. ‘As a female academic in a predominantly male sector (the mining industry), I find there is a lot of presumption from outsiders regarding my ability as an academic.’
Mining is a very diverse industry with one of the highest salaries and there are plentiful job opportunities. The industry is always evolving, and it includes initiatives to empower women and policies on equal employment opportunity and greater women's involvement in the mining sector.