Dr Bronwyn Evans, an experienced and respected CEO who brings a wealth of leadership, commercial and policy expertise gained across a career spanning corporate and not-for-profit roles, has been appointed as CEO of Engineers Australia, the forefront of engineering in Australia and globally.
Dr Evans was one of the first women to graduate from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Engineering (electrical) in the late 1970s and says she was fortunate in her career to have a number of good sponsors and mentors among men with whom she worked as a young engineer.
“I worked at Tallawarra Power Station [just before it shut down] and there were not many women on the turbine floor back then. We were a curiosity and I feigned an interest in things like fishing and football to fit in,” she says.
In 2014 and 2015, the Honorary Fellow of the University of Wollongong was included as one of Australia’s 100 most influential engineers and in 2016 was recognised as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence.
She admits that despite her own success in a very patriarchal industry, there is still the proverbial glass ceiling.
“Absolutely there is a glass ceiling,” she says. “It’s due to a whole range of psychological things. There is almost a sense of questioning that [if women do get into senior roles] that this is the role for which they are ready. We don’t need to fix the women in the industry. We need to understand the fact that the institutional practices out there are challenging.”
“Women are much tougher on themselves in the workplace than men especially in regards to self-assessment. In non-western countries, promotion is often more about class and money than gender. [Promotion to senior roles] is more about how our societies have evolved, so rather than looking at what we did historically, we need to ask what can we do now [to help women succeed], we need senior people helping to pull women up and telling them they can do it.”
In 2017 Dr Evans took on a governance role at International Organisation for Standardisation as the vice-president (finance) in addition to her role as CEO of Standards Australia, a role that she held for four years. She has spent more than 35 years in the engineering industry, holding executive positions at GE Healthcare and Cochlear and has been on a number of boards including John Holland Limited and the Medical Technology Association of Australia.