Mobilizing Tomorrow’s Engineers

Posted on February 21, 2007  Comments (0)

Girl Day And Global Marathon: Mobilizing Tomorrow’s Engineers:

For the past seven years, the National Engineers Week Foundation has focused on diversifying the ranks of engineering with efforts to reach young women and girls, especially during the annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, this year slated for Thursday, February 22 during Engineers Week 2007, February 18-24, and in a more recent venture, the Global Marathon For, By and About Women in Engineering, scheduled for March 22 and 23.

“Girl Day,” as it’s known among engineers, is the only outreach of its kind aimed at a single profession. On February 22, and then in programs continued throughout the year, women engineers and their male counterparts reach as many as one million girls with workshops, tours, speaking engagements, on-line discussions and a host of other activities that showcase engineering as an important career option for everyone.

Girl Day’s cornerstone philosophy is its direct introduction of engineering to girls, often by women engineers. A 2005 study by the Extraordinary Women Engineers Project – a coalition of engineering associations and the WGBH Educational Foundation – found that exposure to role models is among the most effective ways to draw young women into the profession. That emphasis is a departure from typical appeals to girls that stress math and science acumen, messages shown to have little resonance with the target audience and that may, in fact, be counterproductive.

The study revealed that high school girls, instead, react positively to informative, first-person stories about how engineering makes a “difference in people’s lives” and offers a monetarily and personally rewarding career. The study also notes that since few parents, teachers, guidance counselors, media personalities, peers or others who typically influence young people understand or even have knowledge of engineering, outreach by engineers themselves is especially critical.

Related: University of Texas at AustinArgonne National Laboratory 2007 and 2006CaltechGirl Scouts get first-hand look at Motorola careersExxonRensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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