Young Women Design the Future of Engineering
1/18/2013 10:32 AM
Engineers are problem solvers. They are also designers who use math, science, technology, and creativity to solve a given problem. Their skills are usually applied to high-tech, scientific, or industrial fields and many specialize in computer, mechanical, chemical, or aerospace engineering.
Historically, the field of engineering has been a male-dominated profession; however, universities and the engineering industry have recognized the need for female engineers and are beginning to actively recruit young women at the high school level.
Tulsa Tech Pre-Engineering student and Broken Arrow High School junior, Jamie Wilson, credits her counselor for informing her of how the existing perceptions surrounding engineering are beginning to change.
“My counselor let me know right away this was a male-dominated field,” Wilson said. “But she also told me that colleges and universities will really like the fact that I’m applying to study engineering –so I said, great!”
Currently only 20 percent of engineering undergraduates and only ten percent of the engineering workforce are women. False notions of girls’ innate inability in math, science, both pre-requisites to a successful career in engineering, combined with assumptions about young women’s goals and interests, have often been offered as causes for this startling disproportion.
In reality, high school girls have been found to be as strong in math and science as boys, but their interests have traditionally been redirected toward studying education or social sciences, due to traditional thinking that engineering is mostly for men.
Fellow Broken Arrow High School junior and pre-engineering student, Ashlan Rhodes, disagrees.
“I don’t think it matters if you’re a girl,” Rhodes said. “If you enjoy math, science, attention to detail, and solving problems, that’s what’s important.”
Anna Hutnik, another pre-engineering student and a junior at Union High School, is a little more direct.
“I don’t believe that engineering is a boy’s club,” Hutnik stated. “If you look at me, it’s easy to see, I’m a girl. And guess what? I enjoy studying engineering.”
Male or female, the fact is engineering graduates have been declining in the past few years while the need for engineers has greatly increased.
Bailie Henry, a pre-engineering student and Owasso High School junior, is very aware of this need and already has her sights set on a career in architectural or possibly civil engineering.
“We need more engineers, and we need more girls in engineering” Henry said. “The world and the workplace are changing, and there’s going to be so many opportunities for female engineering graduates.”
Many feel that since 63% of all college graduates are women, the problem could be solved by providing girls with more information at an earlier age and recruiting high school girls into engineering degree programs. There are several events specifically aimed at this goal including ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’ on February 21, which is an expansion of ‘National Engineers Week’ that takes place February 17-23.
All of the girls in Tulsa Tech’s Pre-Engineering program acknowledge they are in the minority, but each says the experience has been very comfortable, highly rewarding, and they would encourage students who are interested to visit the program.
“I would tell other girls that may be interested in the program, don’t be afraid,” Jamie Wilson said. “Especially if this is what you want to do. Here’s your chance to design or change something that may make the world a better place.”
If you’re looking for exciting classes for high school and adult students, award-winning business and industry training, or ready to engineer your next career, Tulsa Tech invites you to visit today. For more information, please call 918-828-5200 or visit us online at tulsatech.edu.