When it comes to women in science and engineering, there is a shortage. Little girls are just as curious about the world around them as little boys, but somewhere between examining snails on the sidewalk and taking AP Calculus, they don’t seem to show up in representative numbers. Educators and researchers continue to try to pinpoint the source.
Many of you may have already seen the video link below that went viral several years ago. In the ad, three girls are bored watching princesses in pink on TV. So they grab a tool kit, goggles and hard hats and set to work building a machine that sends pink teacups and baby dolls flying through the house, using umbrellas, ladders and, of course, GoldieBlox toys. I often tell my engineer husband that more young women would go into engineering if the hard hats were another color than white and that everyone didn’t have to drive a truck and more importantly that their teachers were challenging them with engineering problems that appeal more to their interests.
Preparation for engineering professions is more than the single message many girls hear – take more math and science classes.Women want to be creative and collaborative. They want to design systems that make people healthier and safer and preserve the environment and make the world a better place. What they don’t hear is that scientists and engineers do all of these things. Engineers design everything – absolutely everything – in our built environment. Engineers are much more than a single story. So encourage a girl to be curious today and every day. Boys too.