Jean Armstrong

Jean Armstrong has led the way in encouraging women into the engineering profession.

Honour Roll

When Jean Armstrong began her academic studies in 1970, she was one of only a few women enrolled in engineering. Since then the number of women enrolled and qualified in engineering has increased substantially.

Jean Armstrong has remained a trail-blazer, both through her encouragement of women to see engineering as a career option and through her record of research excellence.

She is an acknowledged international expert in the field of high speed data transmission and digital communication for both wireless and optical applications. Her widely published and highly cited research has the potential to give people quicker and better access to the Internet and could eventually be used as a basis for a ‘world without wires'.

In 2006 she shared the $100,000 Peter Doherty Prize for Innovation for the best commercialisation opportunity in Australia. Her work on fundamental theory has resulted in world leading technology being commercialised in Australia.

Just as importantly she has also played a major role in encouraging women to become engineers. Working as a lecturer at the University of Melbourne in 1977, she was the only woman at that level in any university engineering department in Australia.

Since then, in addition to her substantial research, teaching and supervision work, she has helped to improve curriculum planning processes, developed more gender inclusive engineering role models, worked to change policies that disadvantage female engineers doing post-graduate and academic work and helped to initiate the Australasian Women in Engineering Forum.

Her 20-year contribution in these fields was recognised in 1996 by Engineers Australia through its Personal Initiative Award.

But it is also reflected in the large numbers of young women who now begin and complete engineering qualifications, and whose research and work contributes greatly to Australia's development.