Being tech savvy is a key skill for 21st century women which makes math and science all the more important for today's education. Most jobs now require a good knowledge of STEM subjects, whether it's a programming career or marketing or advertising or starting your own company. Technology is everywhere. And where are the women? There are great scientists like Professor Deborah Jin (pictured), just named one of the 2013 L'ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureates, and there are great women engineers at Google and other tech companies, but not enough. "Engineers for America" may be the answer to that problem. Creating a program for girls that supports their college tuition, similar to the way "Teach for America" supports education, could go a long way to increase the number of girls studying STEM subjects and make STEM classes more gender friendly. In "Teach for America", students commit to teaching for two years in low-income communities, in return for support from the "Teach for America" program. This program has had the added benefit of creating parents (Teach for America alums) that understand the problems facing schools and who are better able to contribute to improving school environments for their children. "Engineers for America" could do the same for women. Increasing the number of women in college STEM classes would not only create a more friendly environment for them (it's tough to be one of only a few women in a class or an office!), but it would also create a workforce that has more tech educated women who are able to understand issues facing companies today in a whole new way. "Engineers for America" would pay their tuition even without the need for a commitment to work in the field because every field now uses tech skills and could benefit from scientific thinking. If companies want more choice in their hiring, they need to insure the workforce is properly educated. Liberal arts education has always meant preparing people to be well rounded and to be world citizens. This is still the case, but technology is now a major part of the world and should be as important to a liberal arts major as Shakespeare. "Engineers for America" would expand the understanding of the impact of technology and its connection to all the liberal arts.
"Engineers for America" could also provide a better platform for women to show their work. A nationwide platform for women scientists would benefit science, as well as young women looking for role models. Professor Jin had two parents who were in science and engineering, so it is not surprising that she has become a prize winning physicist with such great role models, but how many of you know about what she has done, cooling down molecules so she can observe chemical reactions in slow motion? Women in science and technology deserve more recognition and more financial support.
Colleges want to find more women for science and use outreach programs to increase the number of women studying STEM subjects, like the Iowa State University programs. 14% of their engineering majors are women. There are other programs, independent of schools, that also try to instill interest in STEM, like the Dare2bDigital Conference or the Girls Who Code program. All of these are great programs, and there are more. Now we need to connect their voices, get all the programs to work together to expand their impact. "Engineers for America" could do that by providing funds for STEM tuition for the young women who find an interest from participating in outreach programs. Encouraging young women to study the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) is essential for the future. So who wants to fund scholarships for "Engineers for America"?