Researchers believe the average American is exposed to nearly 3000 messages a day. Teenage girls are no exception. Between the radio, TV, internet, friends, family, and teachers - their brains are filtering content full time. Unfortunately, the messaging they are receiving about engineering is not something that sticks!
According to the Extraordinary Women Engineers final report (pdf), "current engineering messages portray engineering as challenging and stress the importance of superior math and science abilities. These messages do not include the benefits and rewards of being an engineer." Parents, teachers, and engineers need to learn how to portray engineering in a way that interests young women enough to stand out against thousands of other competing messages.
Teenage girls want to hear personal experiences with engineering that will help them relate to the engineering lifestyle. They want to know how a career in engineering will allow them to change the world and bring home a cushy paycheck to their families!
The following links provide a few resources to begin those discussions and facilitate conversations that paint a different picture of engineering.
Engineer Your Life
In 2004, members of the engineering community formed a coalition to encourage academically prepared girls to enroll in engineering programs. After extensive research revealed some of the reasons girls were not interested in pursuing engineering, the coalition developed and tested new messages that emphasized how varied and creative engineering can be and what a difference engineers make in the lives of others. The messages-creativity has its rewards, explore the possibilities, and make a world of difference-are now part of a national campaign designed to encourage college bound girls to explore engineering.
The EngineerGirl website is part of an National Academy of Engineering project to bring national attention to the opportunity that engineering represents to all people at any age, but particularly to women and girls.
The Girls, Math & Science Partnership's mission is to engage, educate, and embrace girls as architects of change. Working with girls age 11 - 17 and their parents, teachers, and mentors, we draw organizations, stakeholders, and communities together in an effort to ensure that girls succeed in math and science.