This year National Engineers Week runs from February 22nd through the 28th. The annual event, which seeks to promote understanding of and interest in engineering to the wider public, features events throughout the week. And one day, February 26th, is Girl Day, devoted to educating young girls on the possibilities of engineering.
One group promoting this year’s Girl Day is The International Society of Automation (ISA) and its umbrella organization, The Automation Federation. These groups are supporting initiatives that encourage girls and young women to pursue education and careers in science, engineering, technology and mathematics, or STEM.
According to ISA, since 1982, women have earned almost 10 million more college degrees than men. Yet, today, only 11 percent of practicing engineers are women, a disparity that is robbing America of innovation, creativity and diverse thinking, not to mention the higher salaries available to women in the engineering field.
The basic idea is to make girls aware that STEM career options exist and are open to them. At the very least, the goal is to let girls, like boys, explore their interests freely and without the stereotypes of the past, such as that boys are naturally better at math and science than girls, for instance. Such stereotypes negatively affect girls’ self-confidence and may turn them away from interest in math and science.
Girl Day is one of many programs sponsored by DiscoverE (formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation). It’s designed to spur national awareness of the importance of attracting more females to engineering and automation, and inspire more personal and community-based involvement in introducing girls to the marvels and excitement of STEM learning.
“Girl Day is an opportunity for ISA and Automation Federation members, as well as other engineers and automation professionals, to make a difference in a girl’s life by showing her the road to a rewarding and engaging career,” says Peggie W. Koon, Ph.D., the 2014 ISA President and 2015 Chair of the Automation Federation who has more than 25 years of experience as an automation professional and executive. “As professionals in the field, we can share our own personal stories of exploration, discovery and accomplishment.”
The Girl Day website has lots of ideas, including inviting a girl to shadow you at work or mentoring a group of middle school or high school girls, among others.