by Dawn Casey-Rowe, Social Studies Teacher & Learnist Evangelist
I’ve written about engineering before–how there are so many great jobs out there for which I’m unqualified. It’s like a full shopping basket of cool jobs I must pass over. When I look in the “liberal arts” cart or “teaching history” cart, I come up relatively empty.
According to Forbes’ Top Ten List of “careers that paid more than mine,” all ten of them are engineering. Not one slot is reserved for really good teachers or random liberal arts majors. And when I check the cart for “people with more than one liberal arts degree,” I hear laughter in the background and someone saying, “You didn’t learn the first time?”
I look back at the pile of engineering jobs. It seems to be growing. I see a graduate pick one off the top and run to cash in.
I wonder if I could hack engineering. I’ll find out at the 2014 Annual Global Marathon for Women in Engineering, which I plan to attend. It’s held throughout the world both in physical locations and virtually, facilitated by female engineers and prospective engineers alike. This is its tenth year, and the conference is growing. Sponsored by some big names like Raytheon, Dupont, and Bechtel, Exxon Mobil, 3M, Alcoa, and Motorola Solutions Foundation, it attracts some big names in engineering–all women.
This year’s chairwoman is Raytheon Corporation’s Chief Software Engineer Danielle Curcio who urges women to participate in the virtual conference as well as any local events that may pop up nearby. The local events are organized organically within communities. “When women around the world come together,” she says, “we can make a difference for one another,” she says.
Just how underrepresented are women in the technical fields? In 2011, US Department of Commerce reported that women held just 25% of STEM jobs. This trend needs to reverse. Schools are creating campaigns to involve girls in STEM earlier and earlier–there’s a need to package and market these careers to women. For too long, they’ve been considered the male space.
One of these events was the White House Science Fair, drawing girls from across the nation. The research was impressive–everything from a UV emitting lunchbox that killed pathogens in food creating safer school lunches, to Cupertino, California student Angela Zhang who invented a way to isolate and kill cancer cells with materials that attach to nanoparticles in cancerous cells destroying them, leaving healthy cells alone.
Conferences like the Global Marathon help make the connections necessary for girls and young women thinking of entering engineering and technology fields, or even women seeking to make career changes into the tech and engineering fields as a second career. Having the encouragement of other women in underrepresented fields is key. Providing a space to meet potential mentors and find inspiration, also key. The Global Marathon for Women in Engineering and Technology does both.
Register and attend an event whether you’re in STEM or not. If you’re teaching high school, encourage your female students to register as well. You’ll be glad you did. I’m going to crash the engineering party, which is being held March 5-7, and learn with everyone else. You can register here.
I hope they don’t discover I’m a history person, but if they do, I’ll try even harder to learn along with everyone else.
Image attribution flicker user ciatinternationalcenterfortropicalagriculture; Why I’m Attending The Global Marathon For Women In Engineering & Technology