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Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) has long been the hub for engineering technology education since its establishment in 2002. In 2020, UniKL was responsible for 10% of the total of 245,494 students enrolling in the engineering field of studies. The enrollment included a significant number of female students despite engineering sectors being predominantly male-centred.

UniKL is thus, notably one of the distinguished centres in producing outstanding engineering graduates with no regard to gender. Graduates of UniKL have long gained confidence and recognition from the industries that believe in their ability, skills and knowledge. Evidently, these graduates have greatly been accepted in the industries. This is further proven by the report produced by the Ministry of Higher Education stating that our Graduates’ Employability rate for this year stands at more than 97%.

UniKL Malaysian France Institute (MFI), a branch of UniKL, has also succeeded in producing exceptional women experts in many branches of engineering fields such as Mechanical, Manufacturing, Automation Robotics and Water Technology. The likes of it can be seen in one of the alumni, Ms Azlen Binti Yahya who has completed her Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Welding and Quality Inspection) with Honours through the industry-focused lectures and modules at UniKL MFI.

Though she possesses the prior working experience, the bachelor’s degree she later obtained from UniKL MFI landed her the title of Senior Quality Assurance Engineer with ease. A successful graduate, Ms Azlen has then gathered more than ten years of experience in the engineering field, making her an example of a woman expert in engineering.

UniKL also witnessed the establishment of the Centre for Women Advancement and Leadership (CWAL) early this year. CWAL seeks to be the centre of excellence to promote and innovate new ideas, implement significant initiatives, and produce high-level networking. It is also established to raise women’s value in all levels of careers and sectors.

Ideally, it is created to positively impact women’s development at the regional, national, or global. This is in line with the national agenda to give opportunities for women in higher education, decision-making positions, and skills employment. As the pioneer of Higher Technical Vocational Education and Training (HTVET), UniKL actively plays a significant role in establishing CWAL to empower women in engineering fields.

The number of female students in engineering programs in UniKL is 40%, whereas male students are 60%. The same situation is more apparent to working women in the engineering field as it is notably smaller in numbers than men. “With the presence of CWAL, it is hoped to attract and empower more female students and woman engineers,“ said Director of CWAL, Ts. Dr Hajah Jimisiah Jaafar. She further elaborates that women in engineering backgrounds need to be confident and brave to fight for their position with appropriate industry knowledge.

While Ms Azlen also reiterates this situation as the presence of females in her workplace is noticeably lesser by the ratio of 1:10, female to male. “Women need to be firm and highly knowledgeable to stand tall beside the men in the industry”, as remarked by Ms Azlen on the reality of women in engineering.

Dr Hajah Jimisiah shared that in the three months of CWAL’s full operation, they have had two successful webinars on women’s leadership with more quarterly webinars. Ongoing projects include the CWAL book chapter on women’s leadership in engineering, social engagements collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development Malaysia (KPLB) and Sultan Idris Education University (UPSI).

Dr Hajah Jimisiah commented that CWAL works on raising awareness by organizing programs aimed at motivating women to be more confident to stand on the same level as men. Society needs to recognize that women can excel in whatever fields they choose to venture into if equal opportunities are given.

Though the number of women in the field is currently small, there is no doubt that they stand firm together, empowering and supporting each other throughout their careers.

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