girls and engineering

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (February) | Activities

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day will occur again every February. Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is an annual event that successfully introduces young girls to a career in engineering. The idea for this post came to me after I received the following email from The Office of Vocational-Technical, Career and Adult Programs (OVTCAP) of the NJ Dept of Ed promoting the focus on girls and engineering. Be sure to visit the links listed at the bottom for reading and activity sources to share with your daughters and granddaughters of all ages!

Why Girls Lose Interest in Engineering

Women are severely underrepresented in the engineering profession. Research shows that girls and young women lose interest in subjects and the fields of study leading to engineering careers long before they enter college.  (Perhaps it is because they haven’t been told they can use them to become successful engineers, same as their male counterparts. Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day may be all they need to find the motivation.)

K-12 girls need to be exposed to positive messages about math and science education and engineering careers. Additionally engineering societies and other organizations need to incorporate their own focus on women engineers with a hope that these various entities can continue to collaborate in the future. (Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day will help to improve girls’ self-concept of their capabilities.)

Myths About Girls Becoming Engineers

Currently only 20 percent of engineering undergraduates are women. Only ten percent of the engineering workforce are women. For years, false notions of girls’ innate inability in math, lack of science preparation in high school, and assumptions about the effects of historical and institutional discrimination, have been offered as causes for the startling disproportion. Recent surveys, however, refute most of those theories, including the ones that question girls’ academic readiness to study engineering when they leave high school. Girls and boys take requisite courses at approximately the same rate, with girls’ enrollment often exceeding that of boys. Instead, experts contend that the major culprit is one of perception among girls and the people who influence them, including teachers, parents, peers, and the media. (Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day will help to change that perception.)

Girls Need To Perceive They Can Be Engineers

In short, girls have to perceive they can be engineers before they can be engineers. According to the National Engineers Week Foundation, nothing conveys that message as effectively as mentors and role models and no program more effectively brings girls and role models together than Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, now in its 8th year.

Agilent Technologies, Inc. and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation are lead sponsors for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, with additional funding from the Motorola Foundation.

Girls in Engineering Reading and Activity Ideas:

*Personal note:  In my high school days, I was told I could be a nurse, a teacher, or a secretary…even though my aptitude test showed I had the abilities to be an electrician, carpenter, or other hands-on professional. Opportunities were very limited to young women in my day. I didn’t want to be a nurse, nor a secretary, nor a teacher (LOL).  But here I am, 4 certifications and 30 graduate credits later!  I am glad my path led me to where I am today, but I wish I had been given the opportunity to explore. I often wonder what profession I would have pursued…