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September 23, 2006


Meredith Knight

Thanks for starting this thread, and for mentioning me - though I am only one of many women and men who are working towards gender equity in engineering. There has been so much research in this area - children in the U.S. are simply not choosing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related majors or careers. Even as our society and everyday lives become more and more connected to technology, children understand less about the technologies that surround them.
I know a pair of fraternal twins, a girl and a boy. They have had the same parents, watched about the same TV and movies, have been exposed to the exact same teachers, and live in almost the same world to each other. The girl had made a needlepoint for my baby son, which I was thanking her for. A few minutes later, she told me flat out "I hate math". I was taken aback - I turned to her brother and said "Do YOU hate math?" to which he said "No, I think it's kind of fun!". I truend back to the girl and said "But there is so much math in the needlepoint you made for my son......."
I think that Lyn and Sharon are on to something. There has got to be a way for us, as parents and mentors and adults in girls' lives, to be able to show them that they can do what they want - whether it's science or drama, engineering or social work.
It's also imperative to show girls how engineers do help people - because research has stated that girls are drawn to careers that help people. Biomedical engineers develop new treatments for diseases, environmental engineers help keep the water we drink clean, sme acoustical engineers even use sound to track elephants in the jungle (The Elephant Listening Project). It's important that students are introduced to a wide range of possibilities when they are young - before they start eliminating choices from their list of potential career paths.
That's my two cents for tonight!

Kathie Kentfield

If you wish to help young women become excited about STEM areas, please consider volunteering for the FIRST robotics organization (www.usfirst.org). FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), founded by American inventor Dean Kamen, reaches out to youth ages 6 through high school in four different high energy exciting robotics programs. We're making an impact, but we can use more sponsors and more volunteers! I was discouraged from pursuing my career choice (drafting) back in the 70s and want to help young women to realize their full potential!

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