Women are continuously making strides within the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), but job growth and replacement in the next 10 years is creating a demand and opportunity for women to make an even larger footprint in engineering.
In order to help supply this increasing demand, Tesla launched an initiative called “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day”. On this day, 200 middle school students were hosted at eight locations in California and Nevada to engage in various fields of engineering. Tesla provided employees as volunteers to help assist with these events.
Within just a few moments, Jacqueline Cerillo, a sixth grader, began to grasp an understanding of the scientific method. “You have to see your failures,” she said. “On the first projects, our bridge fell, but on the second, we got better.”
This event allowed the girls to be exposed to small engineering tasks to help boost their creativity. They were tasked with creating motors from batteries and wire, and built a balloon-propelled car.
A Tesla spokesperson commented on the event, saying, ”With females making up only a fraction of the engineering workforce in the U.S., Tesla is committed to increasing female students’ exposure to manufacturing and engineering.”
The exposure comes at a crucial point in the lives of the young girls when they are at a crossroads to begin planning their future careers and lives. Haley Felton, a seventh grader, explained, “From a young age, you start planning your life. You start planning what you’re going to do, so if you’ve never done anything like this before, you’re not going to know about this kind of stuff.”
While the Tesla initiative is a great start to helping increase female exposure to engineering, the company doesn’t plan to stop there; they have made a $37 million commitment to education in Nevada. They recognize that without initiatives such as this, it will result in a shortage of skilled engineers in the U.S. in the coming years.
Recent statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that inventions that are brought forth from mixed teams have a higher impact than from those coming from men-only teams. The next step to helping women realize this potential is by putting policies in place that tackle gender stereotypes and remove barriers for women and young girls to have a place in STEM.
It is these types of actions along with changes in policies that can help raise awareness between young girls and the potential careers they can have in engineering. While the world continues to shift toward a viewpoint that empowers young females to work in STEM fields, it is programs like Tesla’s and many others that are helping pave the way and bridge the gap for these young ladies.