My daughter, very intelligent and scientifically knowledgeable, stayed away from STEM in college to make sure that she remained an all A student, so she could keep her scholarships, fellowship and graduate "magna cum laude". She also was convinced that engineers pollute the earth. Instead of becoming a scientist or engineer that she had the talent for, she got a doctorate in Sociology at U of M in Ann Arbor and is teaching Sociology as an assistant professor. Until we start saying the truth about STEM jobs, most girls will stay away from them. They are likely to be idealist and trusting souls when graduating high school, where teachers often lead them astray. I have personally designed machinery that save energy, reduce pollution, help to prevent accidents and sickness. I designed the system to clean up a superfund site, and designed a lube oil and grease manufacturing and packaging plant that was the best and most efficient at the time it was built for 10% of the cost the American engineering firm bid for the job. My daughter ignored the contributions that I, my brother and my father have made to the advancement of our culture and civilization as engineers and followed the dictates of a misled high school teacher. I am sure that she is not alone in this there are literally millions of girls that suffer the same fate.
(sorry about all of the typos in my previous post. Yikes! more coffee is needed)
You can't speak for all of New Mexico, just like I can't speak for all of New Jersey, but it is clear that there are a lot of programs out there that are geared toward girls exclusively. Again, I have two daughters so I supported this for many years, but I really do believe that "we" are assuming boys are naturally interested in STEM subjects and that is not necessarily true. My point is that STEM is important for ALL kids, regardless of thier final career choice, and we need to be cognizant of that.
It's been interesting watching the education pendulum swing over the past 60 years. My high school Freshmen all took General Science and Algebra, Sophomores took Biology and Plain Geometry, Juniors all took Chemistry and Solid Geometry, and Seniors took Physics and Calculus. That all changed for some reason, but now they're trying to bring it back in a limited way with specialized STEM schools or programs.
I'm fortunate to be involved with judging our regional Science, Rube Goldberg, and Future Cities competitions. No public schools get involved in our Future Cities competition. The private schools all participate, usually have STEM programs, and are overwhelming represented by young females. It appears that women are destined to lead our technological future.
I also have two daughters - one working in digital media, the other studying architeecture, but I have noticed over the last few years that boys are being ignored by the school system. I see it plainly with how my son and his friends. The pendulumm has swung the other way and with all of the focus on girls, boys are left behind to fend for themselves. How about STEM for ALL STUDENTS? It seems like it is assumed that boys in general are inherently interested in technology so the schools don't have to worry about them. I predict that we are losing a lot of boys...
Elizabeth, I agree with you, especially as a father of two daughters. I see enormous opportunities in STEM careers for both men and women. I'm still surprised there isn't a huge rush toward STEM careers.
Thanks for this article, Cabe. It's great to see more of a focus on women in these type of jobs, and efforts being made to put them there. It would be good to see both the pay and the number of women in these jobs equal to men some day. Efforts like this will certainly help!
California State University, Chico was the first school in California to offer an ABET-accredited degree program in mechatronic engineering. Now its California Mechatronics Center works with industry on machinery, robotics, and surveillance vehicles.
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