Multiple studies look at why women leave engineering and technology, but what if the question was asked the other way around: “What are the common factors that motivate girls to pursue—and then persist in—engineering education and careers?”
DiscoverE recently released “Despite the Odds: Young Women Who Persist in Engineering,” a comprehensive literature review conducted in partnership with Concord Evaluation Group. The report uncovered a number of key factors that young women consider when choosing and persisting in pursuing engineering careers. These include:
- Interest in and positive attitudes toward engineering
- Recognition of the value of engineering as a profession
- Self-confidence that they have the skills and knowledge to do the work
- Self-identifying as STEM professionals: “This is who I am”
- Having a strong support network
- Having the ability to draw strength from personal or cultural experiences and struggles
- Feeling a sense of belonging
According to the executive summary, DiscoverE was the first organization to call on the engineering community to make a special effort to reach girls, who are often overlooked or actively discouraged from engineering education and careers. DiscoverE created Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (Girl Day) in 2001 as a worldwide campaign to engage girls in engineering. On February 20, 2020, thousands of volunteers will participate in Girl Day to act as role models, facilitate engineering activities, and educate girls about how engineers change our world. Key findings from “Despite the Odds” found that this simple formula helps girls develop an interest in engineering, build their confidence in their problem-solving skills, and create a STEM identity.
Established more than 30 years ago, DiscoverE works to ensure that people everywhere understand how engineers, technicians, and technologists make the world a better place and helps the engineering community to volunteer in their local schools and help young students discover engineering through programs such as Engineers Week, World Engineering Day, Girl Day, and the Future City competition.