Last weekend I volunteered for a SWE outreach event put on by my university chapter where around two hundred high school girls came to campus to learn about what it is like to be an engineer and how to prepare for college. It got me thinking about my own experiences regarding applying for college, deciding about whether or not to go into engineering, and sticking with engineering in graduate school. There have been many times in my academic career that I have wanted to quit and thought that I wasn’t as good as my male colleagues, but every time this happened there always seemed to be a figure in my life that encouraged me to continue. I had read and listened to many different opinions and studies that suggest that improved mentoring to young girls can help get and retain women in the engineering fields. I wanted to share two interesting sources I have come across regarding the women in engineering and the importance of role models for women in engineering.
I recently listened to a Podcast called Stuff Mom Never Told You about women in engineering. Its a really good listen and if you are interested click here for full Podcast. The Podcast has some interesting statistics and stories about women in engineering and why it is important to have both a male and female preceptive in the engineering industry. They also talk about the importance of role models for young women interested in engineering and how many women aren’t exposed to the various engineering disciplines until they reach college. They referenced an interesting study that found that more female than the male engineering students were directly influenced by seeing other engineers and that many women studying also had engineers in their families.
The second source I want to share is a TedTalk by Debbie Sterling, the creator of GoldieBlox. It is an awesome TedTalk so check it out below! If you don’t know about GoldieBlox, they are toys for young girls to help them get interested in building and engineering. Here is what the GoldieBox website has to say about role models. “What we believe is so important in this space are role models — characters that are cool, interesting, smart, and relatable. We’re so glad to have organizations like Techbridge, Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and the Society of Women Engineers for their work in providing role models and support for women in STEM. We hope that Goldie and her friends provide a vital way to see all the different things that girls can be, and are inspiring examples for girls and boys alike.”
I encourage you to think back about the role models who have influenced your engineering path and remember that we are now the role models for the next generation of young girls.