A WWLP Channel 22 news team covered the Women in Engineering Career Day on Monday, October 25, when more than 250 female students, teachers, and guidance counselors from high schools representing more than 50 towns and cities throughout Massachusetts met in the Lincoln Campus Center Auditorium at UMass Amherst. "We get over 3,000 applications a year to the College of Engineering,” Assistant Dean Kathy Rubin told Channel 22. “We enroll a class of 350 students each year, but the number of females stays constant at about 20 percent to 22 percent, and that’s a national figure."
According to Channel 22 reporter Jackie Bruno, new SAT statistics show that girls are catching up to boys in math and science, but not as many girls go into engineering in college. As the Channel 22 report noted, UMass Amherst is trying to change those statistics. The college held an engineering conference for high school girls on Monday. Its goal was to introduce the students to successful women working in the engineering field.
Majdouline Touil is a junior in the College of Engineering. She told 22 News that events like this are crucial to getting girls into the industry. "One of the reasons I got involved in engineering is because my high school had a robotics program. So we were involved with working with engineers from Gillette. That really sparked my interest," Touil said.
Women in engineering are in high demand. Major companies like Verizon and Raytheon were at the conference, hoping to court students early. They say that engineering can be fun, plus it pays well, with starting salaries that can range from $55,000 to $75,000.
22 News asked students why they think that so few girls pursue this career path. "It's nerdy. It's a lot of work because you have to be up in the math and sciences. A lot of people want to go to high school and have fun instead of wanting to get stuff done," Minnechaug Regional High School junior Caitlin Lawler said.
Lea Macheras, of Beverly, blamed the stereotype. "I’m in a physical technology class right now. I’m the token girl. I’m the only girl in there. They think they just can’t do it," she said.
Rubin told 22 News that our culture categorizes the sexes early. Girls like pink. Boys like blue, and so on, but at this conference, they are showing students the sky is the limit for both genders. (October 2010)