Who Says We Need More Girls in Engineering? Uh … Engineers

February 20, 2014


Aprille Ericsson sits at a table in a laboratory while people in the background work on mechanical equipment

NASA aerospace engineer Aprille Ericsson hard at work in her laboratory

We say it all the time: We need more girls in engineering. But don’t take our word for it. Research shows that fostering a girl’s interest in engineering and science can go a long way, and engineers agree. We asked engineers involved with AAUW to share why they think girls are crucial to the field and what about engineering first piqued their interest. Here’s what they had to say.

If you like to create things, you might be an engineer.

Ana Quezada is studying biomedical engineering at the University of California, Riverside. A 2012–13 International Fellow, she became interested in engineering almost without noticing. “I love analyzing and understanding how everything works around me,” she said. “Engineering has no limits; it is applied to everything, so you can be part of any step of the process that you feel passionate about. If you like to draw, build, imagine, analyze — anything you can think of involves engineering.” Quezada told us that girls need to be exposed to engineering early on so they can make informed decisions when choosing their career paths. “Engineering is not only meant for boys,” she said. “If you have any doubts just take a look around you. Everything you see has some engineering in it. I believe girls will love engineering if they will only give it a try. It’s not only focused on cars and boys; it is more about creating new things from scratch just using your imagination.”

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Oklahoma Tech Trek 2014
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Deadline: September 1, 2014

Good for your career, good for your life.

“A knowledgeable and skilled woman can build a better society,” said Manasa Potluri, a web developer and programmer at AAUW. “I just hope that girls get exposed to the power of science and engineering at young ages so that they realize the importance of engineering in our lives.” Manasa still remembers her first engineering gig, with a remote control car. “I was too young to understand every detail, but I figured it has a motor, and I started reusing that motor for a variety of other applications,” she said. “So I knew that engineering was my destination and I am happy and proud to say that I am an engineer.”

Girls will go into engineering if we make it a conscious priority.

Georgia Tech instructor Olivia Scriven spent almost two decades working with faculty at Spelman College, a historically black institution, to build stellar STEM programs. “It was a learning experience about the history of Spelman as a place that had made a conscious decision to educate black women in STEM,” she said. Scriven believes that girls, especially girls of color and girls from economically underserved communities, are crucial to the future of engineering. The social-shaping impact of engineering on every aspect of our lives — from how and what we eat, to how we learn, to how we engage and navigate the world  — continues to evolve and expand on a daily basis. Technology impacts us in ways we don’t always fully recognize, and we, in turn, impact the ways in which technologies are developed and deployed.”

The Next Big Thing? It could be made by a girl.

Technologies are developed every day. But are they the best they can be? If only one group of people are creating solutions, the answer is probably no. “Without diversity in all fields, the United States will not remain technically competitive,” said  Aprille Ericsson, a NASA aerospace engineer who has spoken at multiple AAUW branch STEM events. “The different perspective that each human being brings forth toward solving problems and creating unique tools is required for us to continue to create awesome projects like Mars rovers, prosthetic limbs, or nano cancer treatments.”

Now let’s get more girls involved in engineering!

This post was written by AAUW STEM Programs and Social Media intern Ariana Witt.



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