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Levelling out the surveying field

University of Southern Queensland student is ready to make her mark in surveying
Surveying is traditionally a man’s domain, but more and more women like University of Southern Queensland student Rebecca Johnston are looking to forge a career in the industry.

The sector is looking to recruit more women to help overcome its skills shortage in Australia with the surveying workforce struggling to keep up with growing demand.

Women only represent five per cent of the profession – and 34 per cent for the spatial science industry – but Miss Johnston is part of the next wave of women surveyors levelling the gender balance.

The first-year student is already making a name for herself in the industry having landed a job as an assistant surveyor during her first semester at university.

“The fact that the industry is very male-dominated shouldn’t deter anyone from doing surveying,” Miss Johnston said.

“There aren’t many women in the field because they either don’t know surveying exists or it’s just not for them.

“The surveyors and students I’ve met on my career journey this year are all such genuine people with like-minded interests.

“Surveying offers a large range of career options to choose from, with hydrological surveying my personal favourite.”

Miss Johnston first started thinking about a field-based career in 2017 when she spent a year travelling around Europe on her own, but didn’t consider surveying until last year.

She said what appealed to her most was the mixture of fieldwork and indoor work.

“I love the outdoors and don’t mind getting a bit dirty,” she said.

“I thought about careers in geology, oceanography and environmental science, but surveying allows you to enjoy the outdoors one day and go to the office the next to draw up what you calculated the day before.

“There is also a high demand for new surveyors and the career is continuously developing as new technology becomes available.”

The University of Southern Queensland is Queensland's only provider of surveying degrees and has the largest number of surveying and spatial science students in Australia with more than 700 students in 2021.

Students get to learn with the latest technology, including modern satellite-based Global Navigation Satellite Systems and computer mapping technologies.

Miss Johnston moved from her Pottsville home in New South Wales to Brisbane this year to start her Associate Degree of Spatial Science (Surveying) at Springfield.

She said the biggest surprise in her first week was seeing the number of female lecturers, with women making up almost half of the University’s surveying teaching staff.

“I remember meeting lecturers Jess (Smith) and Chris (McAlister) on my first day of orientation and thought it was pretty inspiring that they were surveyors,” she said.

“It’s great to know they are the kind of women I could be working with one day, but it would be nice to see more like-minded girls doing surveying.

“Diversity is always a good thing in any career and further steps should be taken to make surveying more attractive to girls and young women.”

Interested in a career in Surveying? There’s still time to apply for Semester 2.

Applications close July 12. For more information, visit Study.
surveying student with equipment
University of Southern Queensland student Rebecca Johnston is determined to make a living in the male-dominated surveying industry.