UNSW Girls in Business Camp develops next generation of female actuaries

The Girls in Business (GiB) Camp is a new initiative developed to raise the female student profile in some shortfall areas in the UNSW Business School, including Actuarial Studies. This camp is for female students in Years 10-12, and has been successfully held since 2019. We plan to host a hybrid GiB Camp in 2022, with in-person and online sessions to promote accessibility.

UNSW prides itself on its ‘Values in Action’, including diversity. The Business School aims to be a vibrant and inclusive work and study environment through improvement to pathway programs and opportunities for recruitment for all student equity groups. One of these opportunities includes the GiB Camp, a program that encourages progress towards gender equality, an important UN Sustainable Development Goal and a strategic priority for UNSW.

It is observed that there is a more significant imbalance and underrepresentation of women in three disciplines; Actuarial Studies, Banking and Finance, and Information Systems in the Faculty of Business. So, programs like this are important to redress the gender imbalance in shortfall areas in business. The GiB encourages women with a genuine interest in the aforementioned disciplines to attend a weeklong workshop.

Students have the chance to gain an in-depth understanding of the worlds of actuarial studies, information systems, and banking and finance as well as experience what life as a UNSW student could be like. By creating these immersion programs, the Business School hopes to bring more females to the three disciplines. In turn, this will support the pipeline effect plaguing employers of our students in actuarial studies, finance and technology.

The Business School partners with UNSW Access and Equity to ensure a diverse range of participants. In 2019, this program for Actuarial Studies and Information Systems was developed as a three-day residential camp with hands-on workshops, group tasks, site visits and networking opportunities with current UNSW students, UNSW alumni and industry professionals. The 2020 and 2021 programs were extended to Banking and Finance and delivered virtually for two days, given the impact of COVID-19.

The Business School recruited six ‘Women in Business Ambassadors’ in 2020. These ambassadors represent undergraduate females studying Actuarial Studies, Banking and Finance and Information Systems. They played a key role in the delivery of the past two GiB camps.

The onsite residential camp at UNSW

In 2019, the School of Risk and Actuarial Studies organised workshops about superannuation (interactive VR activity) and soft skills & math activities. During the careers panel and networking dinner, speed networking took place between camp participants, Business School staff and students, and alumni. Alumni were asked questions about their experience as students and now professionals working in actuarial studies and information systems. Participants were taken on workplace tours, heard from industry staff (including some alumni) and had opportunities for a Q&A during the industry visit to Aon, KPMG and the NDIS.

Digital camp

Compared to the 2019 camp, more students could attend the digital camp in 2020 and 2021. There was a great number of participants from regional and remote backgrounds. Through interactive workshops, students could network with other like-minded high school students from across NSW, gain an in-depth understanding of actuarial fields and learn from inspiring female role models. However, being online only can limit more interactive participation during the discipline-specific workshop.

Moreover, physical visits to the industry were not allowed, and students missed out on some of the components that were greatly appreciated in the 2019 camp. The online industry panel event was supplemented by having notable individuals working across the business sector. In 2020, our guest speakers included Judith Beck (Author), Ken Gallacher (Group CIO) and Nicolette Rubinsztein (Non-Executive Director). As part of an industry panel event, we heard from Tesla Chair, Robyn Denholm about her exciting career journey. In 2021, Jenny Child (CEO), Elaine Collins (Practice of Practice, Non-Executive Director), Camilla Love (Founder of F3 and Managing Director at eInvest) and Annie Shu (Manager of Strategy and Innovation) were invited as industry panellists.

Student feedback

We have received terrific feedback from the student participants. Students spoke of a newfound interest in these disciplines and expressed a greater understanding of these degrees. More importantly, students expressed how great it was to see and meet other female students, to hear from current Business School students, and to hear from inspirational women in the fields. Based on feedback, students were interested in attending longer interactive discipline-specific workshops and networking opportunities with each other and the current undergraduate students, including Women in Business Ambassadors.

How could we cooperate with the Actuaries Institute to introduce actuarial education and develop professions for female students in high school?

Future students interested in pursuing actuarial education must have various questions regarding the actuarial studies at the university, career path, and the job nature and prospects as actuaries. The Institute has already created excellent resources such as ‘More than maths’ and channels with the careers advisers for future students. Utilising these, the accredited universities can work together with the Institute to provide valuable and concise information regarding the actuarial program with various double degrees, co-op opportunities, career development, and feedback from the current actuarial students and alumni, etc.

Of course, high-level maths in school would be fundamental training to prepare for actuarial courses at the university. However, throughout various events (like GiB) to promote actuarial education and profession, we hope to inspire talented schoolgirls to pursue their future careers as actuaries and discover the great opportunities out in the world.

Lastly, the UNSW Business School is keen on collaborating with the Institute to develop a network for women in the actuarial field like WEN (Women in Economics Network) and WID (Women in Data). After graduating from the university, our actuarial students could have so many additional benefits to this kind of network, such as improving the talent pipeline for women in the actuarial field, having opportunities to learn experience from women in leadership roles, and supporting each other and helping everyone grow.

References

 

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