The thrust of this proposed project is to introduce the broad field of engineering to outstanding young middle school female students, especially those who might not otherwise be exposed to engineering as a career option.  Students in the 7th and the 8th grades will be our targets.  This target audience is selected as there is a dramatic dwindling of girls' self-esteem as they enter adolescence. As girls mature, they confront a culture that both idealizes and exploits their sexuality as young women while assigning them roles that are clearly less valued than male roles.  The 1990 AAUW poll, Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America, documents a loss of self-confidence in girls that is twice that for boys as they move from childhood to adolescence.  In their middle school years, girls show a drop in math and science confidence and achievement.  In one classic study, the girls' decline in confidence preceded their lowered achievement. 

This proposal focuses on a two-week on-campus session at Rowan University wherein students will interact with departmental faculty, undergraduate engineering students and representatives from local industry.  Research has also shown that girls are more attracted to, and become more engaged in cooperative learning situations, where students take a team approach.  Hence, the workshop will place particular emphasis on collaborative learning.  Programs will specifically focus on hands-on engineering laboratory experiments, field trips, workshops on engineering ethics, professionalism, gender sensitivity and computer training sessions.  This project will strive to make engineering come alive for young girls as a career, while helping them reinforce the educational fundamentals they require in high school to pursue an engineering career. The program will also serve as a model that other schools will be able to adopt readily in a cost effective manner.

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Robinson, G.M., Drummey, D. and Signe Meyers. (1989). Women Engineers: A very rare breed. Design News 45 (15).

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