Rated E for everyone

Profiles on females of engineering who have found their place in engineering

Tate Bailey, James Simons, and Emily Whitcomb

    Junior Samantha DuBois participates in an abundance of engineering activities, from robots to space engineering. She is currently involved in aerospace engineering with Project Lead the Way (PLTW), and the NHS Coding Club. Additionally, she helps with the robotics and coding club at Hazel Dell Elementary.

“I realized I like engineering when I was very little, I think it was first grade, maybe, in elementary school. I got to do some Girl Scout STEM activities, and I loved them. Ever since I’ve loved doing engineering,” DuBois said.

      DuBois expresses herself best through designing new concepts and making them come to life. Once she found she could do this, she was hooked.

      “I like engineering because you get to design whatever you like, and then you get to build it and see it go from start to finish, and it’s amazing to be able to see what you’ve created,” DuBois said.

    STEM, a program emphasizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in school is now a large part of NHS, offering many classes and opportunities to students.

    “If I didn’t have any STEM classes I probably wouldn’t go into engineering, and I’d still be trying to figure out what I want to do,” DuBois said.

    Dubois, as she tries out more and more STEM and engineering classes, is figuring out which fields are most interesting to her.

    “I haven’t quite decided what field within engineering, there’s so many different options to choose from, there’s mechanical, aerospace, electrical, industrial,” Dubois said, “I haven’t been able to decide. I’m probably most interested in industrial, mechanical, and aerospace.”

    Gender discrimination and a significantly larger ratio of men to women amongst engineering fields is not uncommon, and would be present in these fields. But as times change, it is becoming more and more unacceptable to discriminate based on gender in the work field. DuBois has not had many problems with this, which is a testament to the steps being made to make engineering a field welcoming to both men and women. According to Dubois, being the only girl in the class is not as intimidating and awkward as it may appear.

    “I have seen some [girls] that are discouraged from taking the engineering classes at school because they feel like they’d be the only girl in the class,” Dubois said, “In my Intro to Engineering and Design class, I was the only girl for most of the year, and that [wasn’t] a problem. I was still able to learn and I had a good time.”

    “Some people think that engineering is mostly for boys,” DuBois said,” but I’ve just always stuck up for myself and thought engineering is for everyone.”    

    Freshman Holly Golightly, encouraged by her engineering uncle, is just getting started exploring the engineering opportunities available at NHS. Golightly first got started in sixth grade with a robotics club, where she enjoyed programming and creating robots. She also enjoyed the BIT, or Business in Technology, classes she took in sixth and eighth grade. Golightly is currently most interested in two engineering fields: aerospace and biomedical engineering.

    “[In regards to what fields she wants to go into] Biomed or anything NASA and space. I went to a career day at Purdue and it was really fun,” Golightly said.

    Biomedical engineering created another alternative for Golightly: the medical field.

    “Well I really like biomedical because I want to help with medical stuff and advances like that, but I’m not good with blood or injuries [or] quick decisions,” Golightly said.

    Golightly thinks that the ratio of women and men in the engineering field will even out in the future, but she thinks right now girls aren’t as involved due to societal factors.

    “I think it’s just not as suggested for [girls] because just the way it is now there’s more guys than girls. [There aren’t] many people our age who are saying you can’t do it, it just doesn’t occur to [girls],” Golightly said.

    Golightly would love for more girls to get involved in the many fields of engineering.

   “There are a lot of fields for engineering, so if you like medical, biomed, or space or anything like that, you can be like if you’re interested in space you can try engineering. There’s a field for most things,” Golightly said.

    There are many things to be gained by being an engineer, according to Golightly.

    “Girls should be involved in engineering because it can expand their knowledge on science and the world, and they can offer a separate and new perspective.”     

    Inspired by her father who is an engineer, junior Kyra Smythe enrolled in Engineering and Design in her sophomore year of high school at NHS.

Smythe describes the environment as being lively, collaborative, and overall a productive atmosphere. Students draw models and put the models into a program called Inventor on the computer to create them in reality. However, as Smythe looked around on her first day of class, only one other girl besides herself had enrolled in the class.

     “I know that even though there weren’t a lot of girls in my class, there were a lot of girls that were taking engineering. They just weren’t in the same class as me,” Smythe said.  Smythe says she was eager to take engineering because of her father’s career.

    “My dad’s an engineer, and he’s my role model in my life, and it really inspired me to take that class to see if I would like it because I really admire what he does,” Smythe said, “His job is so cool. He gets to travel the world because of it.”
    According to Smythe, engineering isn’t as strictly male-dominated as it has been traditionally.
    “I think it’s better in our society now because it’s so open,” Smythe said, “Girls can do whatever we want, guys can do whatever they want.”
    However, there are still few girls involved in engineering programs. This lack of interest could just be that girls aren’t typically as interested in engineering classes as boys, according to Smythe.

   “I think [engineering] is just something that never just crossed their minds,” Smythe said, “girls just don’t really think about it.”
    Smythe believes that, although many girls may not be drawn to engineering, those who are should try it out.
    “Go for it. It’s not going to challenge you as much right now,”  Smythe said, “but if you decide you like it, you can take harder classes. Definitely take it if you’re interested because it gives you the experience you need.”