It comes down to role models.
At the Ballarat Mars factory, more and more female engineers are leading projects and getting their start, and they're leading the charge to get more girls studying science and engineering.
Leah Portlen and Heather Lord have repeatedly put their hands up to talk to students, help at girls in STEM seminars, and be the role models for young women entering the traditionally male-dominated industry.
"Something I'm very passionate about is not being recognised for being a female, but being recognised for being good at what I do," Ms Portlen said.
"For us, in general, giving people the opportunity to study engineering, or science and technology, and telling females that it's available to them, but at the same time having equal opportunity and not being given extra privileges for being female - that's what we want."
Ms Portlen is a regional electrical and controls engineer, and has worked at Mars for more than four years after careers in smelting, oil refineries, and power generation - she said it's quite a different job at the chocolate factory, but satisfying.
"I've never had an experience where I haven't felt part of the team - you do have to prove yourself but once you do you become part of the team and being female doesn't matter," she said.
"For the most part, I've worked mostly in a male-dominated industry and I'd be the only female in a whole room - even now when I go to training sessions for engineering type subjects, there's not many females around, but I've never felt unwelcome."
Her colleague, Ms Lord, said Mars was pushing for more female representation in the workforce - globally, 42 per cent of people in talent pipeline are women.
"They don't look at it as female and male, they want to break those barriers down," she said.
"However many years down the track, hopefully we don't have to talk about women in STEM because there is equal gender representation across the field.
"In the meantime, I think we do have to work a little bit harder to break down the barriers to at least encourage young girls to take the courses so they have the opportunity."
Ms Portlen and Ms Lord have worked together on several major projects in Ballarat, including the introduction of honeycomb-flavoured Maltesers, a huge compressed air system refresh, and automated guided warehouse vehicles.
"These are the ones that move the pallets around down the bottom, they're like little automated forklifts," Ms Portlen explained.
"That was a good project we worked on together.
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"We work with a lot of different contractors around the Ballarat area as well, which is always good - that's one of the things I enjoy, working with the contractors and the operators, and different parts of the business to come up with fit-for-purpose solutions - I really enjoy that part of the job."
Ms Lord has been at Mars for almost two years after previously working in other food industry jobs - she's now the value stream manager responsible for half the factory, which includes the main bar line and M&Ms.
"It's a pretty fun job," she said, smiling.
"I came into Mars for a role called commissioning and validation startup, a CVS manager, it's essentially the link between operations and engineering.
"We've done a lot, and it's so good to see how well a project can go when you have the right design, the right input early on, which the engineers do really well here.
"One of the first engineers I met was Leah, which was really cool."
Ms Lord and Ms Portlen were keen to emphasise the range of career opportunities engineers could have - Ms Lord, for example, studied chemical engineering, with a focus on environmental studies and energy conversion, while Ms Portlen said she had always enjoyed electronics, physics, and making things.
"Talking to a lot of female people in STEM, most of them, I would say, didn't really know but they fell into doing engineering or some sort of science and technology, not everyone had an idea from when they were kids," Ms Portlen said.
"I liked math, I liked science, I liked problem solving, and there's kind of a few different routes you could take - you could take the long haul and do medicine, or do the short haul, get a professional degree, and get out with a high employment rate - that seemed like the practical thing to do, which shows that maybe I am an engineer," Ms Lord joked.
"I did a co-op program, or a summer student program, that showed me there's actually so many different facets of engineering.
"You're not just the technical engineer sitting in the corner crunching numbers all day, which I was a bit worried about, so once I got to see I could interact with a lot of people if that's the route I choose, I was quite happy to finish my degree because I was a little nervous at the beginning."
Ms Lord and Ms Portlen said they were proud to help with activities at the Ballarat Tech School, where female students could undertake experiments in engineering with a chocolate theme, as well as participating in outreach programs with Federation University.
"We did a follow-up STEMinist dinner and workshop (with Vic Physics and Federation University), so we could get our profiles out there, and young girls can not only see profiles of women they've never met, but women that are actually doing great STEM work here in Ballarat," Ms Lord said.
It's also important for companies to encourage female retention once they were in the workforce, and that's where Mars' focus on mentors was crucial, Ms Lord said.
"They're willing to mentor you, no matter whether they see you - a lot of the time mentors mentor people that they think are like themselves, and from a statistically standpoint, that's where it breaks down with women because there's not as many women to mentor more women," she said.
"The Value Stream Manager managing the other half of our factory's operations, Fernando Del Castillo, would be one of them.
"I think it is changing but we have to get to the point where you don't have to push and it comes naturally.
"You hear about a lot of women who leave the industry once they have a family and then you lose that mentorship.
"You can't be what you can't see."
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