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ECU graduates paving the way for diversity in the workplace

Wednesday, 03 March 2021

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For Bachelor of Computer Science graduate Georgia Maher, university has provided not only a springboard for a successful career, but a platform to advocate for diversity and inclusion.

Georgia, who identifies as non-binary, joined more than 2,400 Edith Cowan University (ECU) peers at graduation ceremonies recently.

Also the 2020 Vice-Chancellor’s Student Award winner, they said that workplaces have everything to gain from supporting diversity and inclusion, particularly as new graduates enter the workforce.

“Diversity can only be a good thing in the workplace. Everyone brings their own perspective and experiences to the party,” they said.

“It's easy to get stuck going around in circles if everyone thinks the same, so having new perspectives, thought processes, and individual priorities is vital to growth.”

Leading positive change

While studying full-time at ECU, Georgia has also been a member of the ECU Queer Collective, the ECU Women’s Community in the Student Guild, the Computer and Security Student Association (CASSA) and the Student Advisory Forum.

“Being heard and having a seat at the table during discussions that affect us is so important, and I want to bring that forward into my career,” they said.

“With the Queer Collective, I was able to voice the concerns of my people directly to the university and create positive changes to make ECU an even more gender and sexuality inclusive place to study.

“I plan on bringing this mindset and passion for equity into my work going forward, and fostering a welcoming and inclusive workforce where other LGBTIQ+ feel comfortable living and working authentically.”

Championing diversity in STEMM

Georgia is a strong supporter of more women in science, technology, engineering, maths, and medicine disciplines (STEMM) and has conducted computer programming workshops at high schools to help achieve this.

“Computer science and STEMM have traditionally been male dominated, but it doesn't have to be,” they said.

“If people like you aren't creating the products you use, conducting the research that affects you, then you aren't going to be represented in the final product in any authentic way.

“It's our duty to be what we want to see, not just wait for others to make the change.

“Teaching high schoolers how to code with the WA Code Makers program taught me so much about my own skills, and the complex beauty of programming.

“Children and young people have such a thirst for knowledge that drives my own desire to learn and grow my skills.”

Career ready

Georgia recently completed a Work Integrated Learning program at the Office of the Auditor General for Western Australia, and is excited about building a successful career.

“I would love to get into the software testing space, or database development. The ability to learn new languages quickly, and the root understanding of software engineering practises will be vital in this, as no matter what the challenge, they are always applicable.”

Honorary degrees

Also crossing the stage at the ECU graduations were four esteemed leaders in politics, nursing, engineering, gender equality and the global resources sector:

The Hon Barry House AM
Doctor of the University

Mr House commenced his eminent career teaching and working in youth education at several high schools in Perth and regional WA, before being elected as a member of the Busselton Shire Council. He then served in the Western Australian Parliament for thirty years, including as President of the Legislative Council from 2009 until his retirement in 2017.

During his time in Parliament and due to his passionate advocacy for the region and its people, the South West Region of Western Australia underwent significant growth fuelled by tourism, agriculture, and associated infrastructure, including the rejuvenation of the Busselton Jetty, and the formation of the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association.

Ms Susanne Davis
Doctor of Nursing

Ms Davis is a transformational leader and proud advocate for the unique roles that nurses play in the healthcare landscape. She is currently Chair of the Edith Cowan University Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Services Advisory Board.

Her efforts have been instrumental in the success of the Centre for Nursing Research, which now has grant funding worth more than $1 million dollars. Throughout her career, Ms Davis has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the enhancement of nursing as a profession and worked tirelessly to improve ECU students’ access to clinical placements.

Mr Edgar Basto
Doctor of Engineering

Mr Edgar Basto is BHP's President of Minerals Australia. Under his leadership, BHP became the lowest-cost, major iron ore producer in the world.

He is a founding member of the BHP Global Inclusion and Diversity Council and the company has pledged to achieve gender balance by 2025. Mr Basto’s contribution and dedication to the advancement of gender equity, and education and training within the mining industry is an incredible testament to his outstanding leadership.

Ms Sue Murphy AO
Doctor of Engineering

Ms Murphy is a prominent West Australian civil engineer and non-executive director who served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Water Corporation from 2008 until 2018. In 1998, She become the first woman appointed to the board of Clough Engineering Limited.

Under her leadership at the Water Corporation, she instigated a programme of capital works that allowed up to half of Perth’s water supply to be sourced from non-rainfall dependent sources. Another major success as CEO was successfully changing water consumer behaviour, with customers now using on average one third the water they used before 2001.

Ms Murphy’s innovation, and dedication to applying engineering to solve complex problems has seen her become one of the most influential leaders in a once traditionally male dominated sector.

For more information about the benefits of ECU’s alumni network, visit the Alumni webpages.

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