By Darby Buscemi, Helen Foster, Nicole Ramirez, and Vanessa Leija
When it comes to engineering, there’s a lot to talk about, but there is one thing most people will try to avoid. Only 13% of engineers and 18.4% of engineering bachelor degrees are awarded to women, which is definitely a problem. Women are widely underrepresented in engineering, and at Ann Richards, we want to fix that problem. There are many types and aspects of engineering that most girls don’t know about, and sometimes don’t even realize are engineering in the first place. The engineering pathway at our school, as well as the middle school PLTW classes, are designed to expose girls to what it means to design, create, and engineer.
We asked some of the 10th grade engineering girls about their opinions on the amount of women in engineering and what their favorite things about the pathway are. When we asked why they chose engineering, they responded that they enjoy designing things that come from their imagination and being able to create them in real life. Emma Foster said that she enjoys finding out how things work and why they were designed the way they are, which is a big part of all things engineering. Meredith Oldham included that she had a lot of fun in middle school PLTW, and the engineering pathway was that and more. The design, building, and hands on work is one of the main reasons many girls decide to go into engineering. Almost all the girls we interviewed said that their favorite part of engineering was seeing the final product and getting a sense of accomplishment from knowing that what they imagined, they were able to create themselves.
Unfortunately, there aren’t as many women as there should be or there can be, and the 10th graders said this is probably due to a pre existing stereotype for it to be a man’s job, and that women do not have as much exposure to engineering and what it actually means to be an engineer. If we want to fix this, we have to take action.
Meredith said that, “by creating all girls schools with STEM programs (like our school) I think we’re trying to do that. However it really boils down to stereotypes that girls discover at very young ages, and a major way to fix that I think is by making women engineers role models for these younger girls.”
We believe that engineering is a great career to pursue, because there are so many different paths you can go down and so many things you can do that rely on creativity and the ability to think outside of the box. From software to aerospace to product design, you can do just about anything. Almost everything you use had an engineer involved, even things like paper, bridges, and your computer mouse.
If you don’t already know we, the seventh graders, are working on the outdoor space for the trailer that is being converted into a teachers’ lounge. This means figuring out what plants will work well, how we will do the layout, considering what teachers and 10th graders want, and what can benefit the Ann Richards community. You may not realize it at first, but these are part of engineering as well. Figuring out what works and what your clients want is important, and applies to almost all professions, including engineering.
Currently, we’re working on choosing the plants for our garden and how we’re going to lay them out. We have already taken all our measurements, so the next step would be deciding on what plants and objects we want, then putting it all in Google Sketchup, where we can create a model of our area as an example of what it’ll look like when we’re done. Thanks for reading, and we hope you all have a super, fantastic, awesome, splendid, amazing day!