Midstate girls explore careers in engineering

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — It’s National Engineers Week, and the Whitaker Center is working to inspire young women to close the gender gap in STEM-related jobs.

“My favorite part about doing science is usually the activities,” said Aurora Hicks, of York Springs.

Hicks loves science. That’s why the fifth grader was at Whitaker Center for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.

“Have a really well-rounded education, and do all the same things as the boys can do,” said Jamie Myers, Hicks’ mom.

Young women tested the laws of physics by building their own roller coasters out of pool noodles. Girls used rolls of tape to put together their roller coasters and marbles as test passengers.

“We love Hershey,” said Annie Castellano, of Harrisburg. “We go there all the time.”

Castellano’s dad is an engineer. She’s interested in learning more about the industry.

“How it all kind of comes together and how there’s so many parts and components to things,” she said.

The Society of Women Engineers says that although there are more women working in other STEM jobs, the number of women in engineering have mostly stayed the same over the past 15 years. That’s something Whitaker Center is working to change.

“Women comprise 47 percent the overall workforce but only account for 24 percent STEM-related jobs,” Ashlee Hurley of Whitaker Center said.

Thursday night’s program, put on in partnership with the State Library of Pennsylvania, was geared toward inspiring girls in fourth through eighth grade.

“That’s kind of been identified as a crucial point in a girls education. If she’s going to have a career in STEM or even where her interest is science, technology, engineering, and math, it’s like a make-or-break period,” Hurley said.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day was one of multiple events Whitaker Center is holding to celebrate National Engineers Week.

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