Girls like STEM! Introduce a girl to civil engineering during Engineers Week

January 4, 2013

Help girls consider engineering as a career choice and celebrate awesome!

When it comes to outreach, are you (or your Section/Branch) wondering where to put your effort? If so, you may want to consider five key findings of a 2012 Girl Scouts of America Report: Generation STEM What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It turns out that girls are saying a lot, making them prime target audiences for engineering outreach this Engineers Week, February 17 – 23.

According to the report, Girls are VERY interested in STEM. Not only are they interested, but STEM Girls, as they call them, are well suited to the pursuit of STEM careers due to their high level of curiosity and naturally high achieving ways. Still, when it comes to choosing a STEM career – and especially engineering – there is a large gap between their STEM interest and their career choice.

Among STEM Girls only a third report being interested in engineering. Helping girls get passed perceived gender biases is an important step in helping girls to realize that engineering may, in fact, be the fulfilling career option they are looking for. One in which they can collaborate with others, make a difference in the world, and make a good salary at the same time. Let’s look more closely at the findings:
1. Girls like STEM!
     • Seventy-four percent of high school girls across the country are interested in the fields and subjects of STEM.

2. The creative and problem solving aspects of STEM draw girls
    • Girls are interested in the process of learning, asking questions, and problem solving.
    • Girls want to help people and make a difference in the world.

3. The DNA of a “STEM Girl” sets her apart
    • Girls who are interested in STEM are high achievers who have supportive adult networks and are exposed to STEM fields.
    • Girls who are interested in STEM fields are actually interested in many subjects and career opportunities—STEM is just one area of interest among many.

4. A gap exists between STEM interest and career choice
    • Perceived gender barriers are still high for girls and may help explain why STEM fields aren’t their top career choices.

5. The story differs for African American and Hispanic girls
    • African American and Hispanic girls have high interest in STEM, high confidence, and a strong work ethic, but have fewer support systems, less exposure, and lower academic achievement than Caucasian girls.

What can be done about it? Plenty! This year, ASCE and SWE are teaming up for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, February 21, 2013. Together our societies are encouraging our members to join forces to introduce girls to civil engineering and help break down gender stereotypes and barriers that keep girls from pursuing a career they may love. By forming partnerships, ASCE and SWE members will have access to free resources to make their job easier and help them reach young women with messaging and experiences that will turn them on to the awesome possibilities of having a civil engineering career.

Ready to make a difference? Here’s how to get started:
    • Locate your ASCE/SWE partner and start planning your event
    • Need volunteers? Find them through the SWE and ASCE websites
    • Register your event at the SWE volunteer management site – SWEeter Futures®
    • Once registered, get free resources:
    • EYL posters (1), EYL brochures (30), EYL postcards (50), Aspire information cards (25) Future Engineer buttons (30) and more
    • To order, email SWE’s Randy Freedman

Questions? Email outreach managers Randy Freedman at SWE or Leslie Payne at ASCE for more information.

What have you planned this year for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day? Leave a comment here or send a photo and description of your event to outreach@asce.org. We’re looking for ideas to share.

Leslie Payne
Senior Manager, Pre-College Outreach

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