National Engineers Week was founded in 1951 by the NSPE (National Society of Professional Engineers) to develop a diverse and well educated engineering workforce. Today the organization encourages educators to introduce girls to engineering.
Having to designate a day to talk to girls about engineering may seem ridiculous. Aren’t girls exposed to the subjects and skills associated with engineering enough? Actually they aren't. According to NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, “Girls are taking many high level mathematics and science courses at similar rates as their male peers, with the exception of physics and engineering, and are performing well overall. However, gaps in mathematics and science achievement persist for minority and low-income students”
Research shows that one day can make a difference. “Girls are more likely to take high school physics if they see women in their communities working in science, technology, engineering, and math” notes a University of Texas study.
Use this day as a starting point. Melinda Gates recommends beginning the conversation about pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math in middle school. In an interview on the Katie Couric Show, she encouraged educators and the community to prompt girls to answer math questions in class and expose young girls to women in STEM careers.
Connecting girls to female engineers is also the best way to stimulate interest. Discovere.org has ideas on how educators and professionals can connect. PBS Learning Media had videos on engineering careers and how mentors help too.
How else can educators and the community encourage girls to pursue engineering careers? Share your thoughts here.
Start in middle school by cultivating girls’ interest in the sciences and encouraging them to answer science, technology and math questions in class as much as boys do says Melinda Gates in an interview on the Katie Couric Show.
This is the perfect day to begin doing so and Discovere.org has several ideas to implement. As an educator connect with a person in an engineering field and send female students to shadow those people. Also connect with women’s organizations that support science, technology, engineering and math events.