Project Lead The Way engineering program notices a lack of female participants

Project Lead The Way Engineering Program struggles to get females to join the program. Photo: Kaitlyn White

Project Lead The Way Engineering Program struggles to get females to join the program. Photo: Kaitlyn White

Kaitlyn White, Staff Writer

Engineering has always been a white male dominated career field; women will go to college for engineering but then switch their majors right away or pick another career after graduation. The article “Engineering Is A Man’s Field: Changing a Stereotype a Lesson From India”, shows that women do go into the engineering career then soon quit. “In 2010, 30 percent of enrolled students in engineering programs were female, but only 18.5 percent received degrees,” the article explained. Women usually dropped out because of a “chilly climate” from the males in the classes. (You can find more information about this here)  Women are encouraged to join Project Lead the Way (PLTW) at South High. Yet despite efforts to bring in more female students, the program is still male dominated.

The PLTW program at South High is white male dominated as well. South High school has two engineering teachers, Jesse Sirovy and Bill Ruff. Both encourage students of all gender identities to join the program.

Female students may feel intimidated to join the program because the males tend to “speak up and do things even though they don’t think they’re doing it right,” Sirovy explained comparing male students to the female students who “most of the time in order to try things, they have to be right,” sirovy stated. I started to believe that a norm started to develop. Another stereotype. I wanted another opinion; I went to Bill Ruff to see what he had to say about this. Ruff feels “disappointed” he stated “women in the S.T.E.M. fields have excellent opportunities for high paying jobs.” Even Ruff doesn’t  know why female students are joining.

There are many theories, on why females won’t join the program. Except for three female students who joined the program willingly. Ingrid Zoll, freshman. Vivian Sieger, freshman. And Ingrid Heard, freshman. They all have different reasons for joining.

“My brother graduated from here, and thought the teachers were really cool. It had a mix of math and art too,” Zoll said. Each had their own reason for joining,“I had someone tell me it was really fun. The teachers were nice and the class seemed more challenging,” said Sieger. Each reason was a good contributor on why they joined.“This class wasn’t my first choice but my second, and I knew it would help me,” said Heard

These three girls took a class no other girl would want to. They knew it would push them to do their best and even more. PLTW, wants females to join and “give the program good publicity,” Mr. Sirovy stated, hoping to draw in more female students.

In the future, PLTW program leaders hope to draw in more females, and encourage them to continue their learning in engineering and be successful in life doing what they enjoy.