Monday, May 25

Brookdale Newsroom

Program Encourages Girls to Consider Engineering Careers

Area Girl Scouts met with a team of female engineers and engineering students on the Lincroft campus April 26 to learn about careers in the male-dominated field.

The day-long Girl Scout event included a fun engineering activity and a chance for the girls, all fifth and sixth graders, to ask questions of female engineers or engineering students.

“Only 16 percent of engineers are women,” pointed out Susan Monroe, assistant professor of mathematics at Brookdale. “That is because girls traditionally shy away from the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” she said.

By bringing girls onto a college campus where they can see meet and interact with women in the field, the hope was that they would come away thinking, “These students look like me. I can do this,’” Monroe said.

Monroe, along with Lisa Hailey, associate professor of engineering and technology at Brookdale, and students from the college’s Women in Engineering, Science and Technology (WEST) Club, designed a group activity to get the participants thinking like engineers.

The task: build a 12-inch tower that can support a stuffed animal for 10 seconds.

The challenge: the raw materials were assigned dollar amounts and the project had to remain within a $200 budget.

The girls also had a chance to ask questions during a panel discussion with current engineering students from Brookdale and Rutgers.

“You really need to capture kids in sixth through eighth grade,” Monroe said. “That is when girls tend to leave the sciences and math. When you ask a girl that age what they want to do when they grow up, they don’t say, ‘I want to be an engineer.’”

The program was sponsored by Brookdale Community College, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore.