“Bridging the Engineering Gender Gap” #hwhtw

February 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm Leave a comment

In honor of National Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, WSJ MarketWatch reports on efforts to bring more girls into the engineering field.

Bridging the Engineering Gender Gap

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 22, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — During 17-year-old Emily Moore’s sophomore year of high school, her father proposed something she’d never considered: taking an Introduction to Engineering class through her high school’s Project Lead The Way program. As an engineer himself, Moore’s father wanted her to explore her options, but Moore wasn’t so sure.

“When my dad told me I had to take a class, I was really against the idea. I thought, “Ugh, only boys take those classes. But then I heard they were going to have an all-girls class this year. That got me more excited,” she says.

It seems that Moore’s dad and Hilliard Davidson High School Engineering teacher, Bill Kuch, were thinking along the same lines. In his third year of teaching Project Lead The Way (PLTW) engineering courses outside of Columbus, Ohio, Kuch was noticing what he considered to be a problem. Out of the 80 students in his four engineering classes, only eight were female.

Gender diversity is a nationwide concern that universities, corporations, and even the U.S. Department of Commerce and The President have been researching for years. According to a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, while women represent 48 percent of the overall workforce, they represent only 24 percent of the workers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, and only 13 percent of engineers. It is currently estimated that 6.7 million men have STEM degrees, compared to just 2.5 million women. And for women who do earn degrees in STEM-related fields, it is more likely that their career paths will diverge into healthcare or education occupations than actual STEM occupations.

But how to get more girls in the seats of his engineering classroom was what Kuch needed to figure out.

“The girls who were in the classes were incredibly successful and were staying in the program,” Kuch says. “So we started brainstorming and thought, ‘What if we had an all-female Introduction to Engineering Design course?'”

Read the full article: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bridging-the-engineering-gender-gap-2012-02-22

For more info on National Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day: http://www.eweek.org/EngineersWeek/Introduce.aspx

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