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Lack of Girls In CHS Engineering Program

Members+of+SWE+work+in+Mr.+Bochinski%27s+room.+From+the+left%3A+Jamie+Pan%2C+Riley+Sherwin%2C+Ashleigh+Jankowski%2C+and+Elizabeth+Simpson.
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Lack of Girls In CHS Engineering Program

Members of SWE work in Mr. Bochinski's room. From the left: Jamie Pan, Riley Sherwin, Ashleigh Jankowski, and Elizabeth Simpson.

Members of SWE work in Mr. Bochinski's room. From the left: Jamie Pan, Riley Sherwin, Ashleigh Jankowski, and Elizabeth Simpson.

Members of SWE work in Mr. Bochinski's room. From the left: Jamie Pan, Riley Sherwin, Ashleigh Jankowski, and Elizabeth Simpson.

Members of SWE work in Mr. Bochinski's room. From the left: Jamie Pan, Riley Sherwin, Ashleigh Jankowski, and Elizabeth Simpson.

Eden Beyene, Staff

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The Engineering Design and Development Capstone Course is an engineering class in which students identify a problem and design a solution over the course of the school year. The class, like many engineering classes, has an imbalance of male to female students. 

“There are only six girls in all of the senior class that do Project Lead the Way engineering out of like fifty people total,” senior Ashleigh Jankowski said. 

The class recently went to an EDD conference in Baltimore where they presented projects they had been working on to engineers.  

“We can get feedback on our ideas and how we present ourselves… They’re just trying to get us prepared for what’s going to be [in the engineering field],” senior Jamie Pan explained. 

This field trip also showed CHS students the gender gap in the field. 

“There were definitely more guys than girls,” Pan said. In addition, most of the professionals in the audience were men, some of whom were unaccustomed to seeing girls in the field. Jankowski’s group found their interviewer directing questions at the only boy in the group.  

“They were definitely surprised to hear that Ashleigh and I were doing a project that focuses on construction,” senior Erin Kreis said.  “If there are any girls in engineering, it’s very unlikely for them to be in fields like mechanical and electrical engineering.” 

Perhaps the most notable engineer was the CEO of BGE, who approached Pan’s group. 

“He said ‘Oh, an all-girl group?’ Like ‘This should be interesting’,” said Pan. And he’s not alone in this mentality. 

“It’s definitely something people in the engineering field notice, which is annoying,” Jankowski said. 

CHS girls not only were the minority but also felt stigmatized for being female. 

“We were definitely treated differently; we were seen differently,” Pan said. “He was surprised that it was an all-girl group working on this, and I think he was also kind of surprised that an all-girl group could come up with something practical.” 

There are other reasons besides prejudices that females stay away from engineering. Girls may not receive the support they need to pursue their interests in the field, which could contribute to why women only make up approximately 18-20% of engineering students in the U.S.  

“Normally that support structure throughout history hasn’t been there for them, and, therefore, they’re less likely to go proceed through those paths,” explained engineering teacher Kevin Bochinski. “As the fields start getting more difficult, they find less support to help spur them on.” 

In CHS, the lack of fellow female classmates may be a driving factor as well.   

“What shies most women away from [engineering] is that it is a male dominant field,” Pan said. “But they shouldn’t be afraid to even out the playing field.” 

Kreis believes more women role models in the field can encourage other girls join. 

“I’ve had a lot of amazing female math teachers… which really helped me,” said Kreis. She also believes that introducing more girls into engineering can have a domino effect. “You see other girls joining and you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s ok if I were to do this, too’,” she said. 

This effect has already begun at the college level. 

“[There are] women professors at university who are specifically targeting women engineers at younger levels to be able to promote them up to… higher levels of education,” said Mr. Bochinski. 

At CHS, there are multiple programs to help girls interested in the field. Students can explore engineering in the Project Lead the Way class. 

“Our [freshmen] class currently… is about a third women,” said Mr. Bochinski.  

The relatively new Society of Women Engineers club also provides support to girls. 

“The Society of Women Engineers is a national organization that has started having clubs at the high school level in order to spur women on… and to get them not even interested but also engaged in the field,” explained Mr. Bochinski. “Girls who are in high school can find ways to… not only engage with engineering but also find colleges that… they would want to go to.” 

Eden Beyene, Staff Writer

Hi, I'm Eden! I am a 12th grader in CHS. I enjoy reading and writing which is why I joined journalism. In my free time, I enjoy reading and talking with...

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