| For Immediate Release: |
November 10 2005
CONTACT: Donald Lehr
The Nolan/Lehr Group
(212) 967-8200 / email@example.com
DETERMINED TO OPEN DOORS, INTRODUCE A GIRL TO ENGINEERING DAY TAKES ON NEW URGENCY
“Girl Day” Set For February 23; “Global Marathon” on March 23
With a sharpened focus on diversifying the ranks of engineering, Engineers Week 2006, February 19-25, will spearhead an all-out effort to reach young women and girls, especially during the sixth annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day on Thursday, February 23.
“Girl Day,” as it’s known among engineers, is one of the most crucial components of the EWeek outreach. Women engineers, with help from their male counterparts, are planning to reach as many as one million girls through workshops, tours, speaking engagements, on-line discussions and a host of other activities aimed at showing that engineering is an important career option for everyone.
Engineers have long promoted diversity outreach, but Girl Day 2006 takes on added urgency on the heels of startling findings from a survey of attitudes among high school girls, teachers and counselors, engineering students, and engineers. According to the Extraordinary Women Engineers Project (EWEP) study, led by a coalition of engineering associations and the WGBH Educational Foundation and released in April 2005, a staggering number of high school girls – more than 90 percent – do not even consider engineering as a career option. Further, only three out of 85 girls in an EWEP online focus group of academically prepared students indicated that they were planning to become an engineer.
More troubling is the fact that there is no lack of ability or preparation on the part of girls and young women. Previous studies have found that girls, on average, are just as or more likely as boys to have taken the high school science and math courses (biology, chemistry, physics, and advanced algebra) necessary to enter engineering school.
Currently, about ten percent of America’s engineers are women, despite the fact that women make up 46 percent of the nation’s workforce. To counter that, Engineers Week – a 55-year-old consortium of professional and technical societies and major corporations – launched Girl Day in 2001. By all counts, it has become one of the most significant and well-received programs in EWeek’s history.
In particular, Girl Day is hailed for its direct introduction of engineering to girls, often by women engineers. The EWEP study found that one of the most effective ways to draw young women into the profession is for them to know and be exposed to role models. That emphasis is a departure from typical appeals to girls that stress math and science acumen, messages shown to have little resonance with the target audience and that may, in fact, be counterproductive.
The EWEP study revealed that high school girls, instead, react positively to personal, informational stories about how engineering makes a “difference in people’s lives” and offers a monetarily and personally rewarding career. Outreach by engineers themselves is essential, since few of those who influence young people – parents, teachers, guidance counselors, media personalities and peers – are likely to understand or even have knowledge of engineering. These factors, along with long-standing stereotypes of engineering being for men only, have spurred the increased attention on Girl Day this year.
Diversification has ramifications far beyond engineering. It is estimated that engineering, science and technology have accounted for more than half of America’s sustained growth in the last 50 years, yet these sectors represent only five percent of the work force.
Though billed as a one-day event, Girl Day actually kicks off of a year of activities, including:
- The "Global Marathon For, By and About Women in Engineering" running continuously from Noon (EST) Thursday, March 23 through Noon (EST) Friday, March 24 at the Engineers Week web site – www.eweek.org. Dozens of presentations and question and answer sessions originating from points around the globe will heighten awareness of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics issues among pre-college, college, and young career women, and examine issues such as retaining women in college engineering programs and the workplace.
- The launch of a new book, "Women Engineers: Extraordinary Stories of How They Changed Our World," from the Extraordinary Women Engineers Project. More information on the book, how to get involved with EWEP, and the full EWEP report, can be found at www.engineeringwomen.org.
Last year, Girl Day took its first steps into the international arena, with outreach to girls in Canada, Columbia, Egypt, India, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates. Educational material from the "ZOOM into Engineering" program, developed in collaboration with the PBS television show, "ZOOM," have been translated into Spanish, with French, German, Mandarin, and Portuguese to be added in late 2005. The translations, provided by the IEEE Women in Engineering international project, are posted at www.eweek.org/site/News/Eweek/girlsday.shtml.
Organizations and engineers are urged to list their Girl Day activities on the online Pledge Roster at www.eweek.org/site/News/Eweek/2006_nationalpledgeroster.shtml.
Patricia Welesko Garland, Chair of Engineers Week 2006 activities and a chemical engineer who currently serves as Combined Heat and Power Program Manager at Oak Ridge National Laboratory based in Tennessee, notes that the challenges to diversification are great, but the potential reward greater. “If we turn this around not only will engineering benefit, but so will all of society around the globe.”
Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is led by Engineers Week 2006 co-chairs, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Northrop Grumman Corporation, with major sponsors Agilent Technologies, Inc., Lockheed Martin, and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.
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In Brief: The sixth annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is February 23, 2006. Hundreds of organizations worldwide will mobilize tens of thousands of women engineers – along with support from their male colleagues – to reach one million girls that day and throughout the year with direct, hands-on mentoring activities. "Girl Day" is the centerpiece of Engineers Week's annual outreach to encourage underrepresented groups to consider a career in engineering. Activities can be accessed online at www.eweek.org/site/News/Eweek/2006_nationalpledgeroster.shtml. Engineers Week 2006 co-chairs, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Northrop Grumman Corporation, lead the Girl Day campaign with major sponsors Agilent Technologies, Inc., Lockheed Martin, and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Girl Day was founded in 2001 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, IBM, SWE, WEPAN, and MentorNet.
- Engineers, scientists and advance-degree technologists make up only five percent of America's 132-million-person workforce, yet more than half of America's sustained growth over the past 50 years has come from this sector.
- Less than 15 percent of U.S. high school students have the prerequisite courses to pursue a scientific or technical degree in college.
- Only 5.5 percent of high school seniors plan to pursue an engineering degree.
- Women account for 55 percent of all undergraduates, yet only 20 percent of engineering undergraduates.
- Women make up 46 percent of the total workforce, yet only 24 percent of the jobs in engineering, science and technology.
- Approximately ten percent of engineers nationwide are women.
Background: Engineers Week, founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers among young students and by promoting pre-college literacy in math and science. Engineers Week also raises public understanding and appreciation of engineers' contributions to society and is among the oldest of America's professional outreach efforts. Co-chairs for 2006 are the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Northrop Grumman Corporation.