- February 02, 2016
- Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
While women have earned almost 10 million more college degrees than men over the past 34 years, only about 14 percent of engineers in the work force are women. In addition, research reveals that nearly 40 percent of women who do earn engineering degrees quit the profession or never enter the field at all.
The International Society of Automation (ISA) and its umbrella organization, The Automation Federation, support initiatives that encourage more girls and young women to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
One of these initiatives is Girl Day, an annual celebration of girls’ interests and aptitude in STEM education and potential in STEM-related career fields. While Girl Day—which this year will be recognized on Thursday, 25 February—brings with it varied opportunities for single-day events and activities across the US, it represents a much broader, sustained effort.
Girl Day, one of many programs sponsored by DiscoverE (formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation), is designed to spur national awareness around 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. (Read how you can get involved in Girl Day by clicking here and reading further down in this press release.)
“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 girls’ lives by showing them 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 26 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.”
Drawing on her own personal and professional experiences, Dr. Koon encourages engineers and automation professionals to: provide support and mentoring; work to counteract stereotypes and misconceptions; and become more active in your local schools and community.
In a recent article published by ISA and the Automation Federation, Dr. Koon emphasized that parents, educators, industry and government all have parts to play in attracting more girls into STEM learning and careers. (Click here to read the entire article.)
“Parents must be encouraged to become advocates in the school system for their young daughters who show interest in STEM education. Teachers must be trained to recognize interest and be advocates for inclusion of young women who show interest and/or potential in STEM fields. And industry must partner with schools, colleges, and universities to provide scholarships, internships, and other programs that help young women pursue STEM education and careers. Government has a role to play in this as well by providing incentives to schools that develop programs to promote STEM education for young women,” noted Dr. Koon.
Begin your involvement by celebrating Girl Day
Developing or participating in a Girl Day event or activity is a great way to kick off your involvement. Not sure where to start? The Girl Day website has lots of ideas. Some of them include:
- Inviting a girl to shadow you at work
- Mentoring a group of middle or high school girls
- Hosting a Girl Day event
- Making a presentation about engineering at a middle or high school career day
- Hosting a lunch or dinner for a group of girls
- Volunteering as a judge for a science and engineering fair
- Conducting hands-on engineering demonstrations with a group of girls