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National Campaign Coaxes Women into Engineering

A new national campaign to attract more women into engineering fields of study and career paths could increase female game programmer job pool.
A new national campaign, called Engineer Your Life, designed to attract more women into engineering fields of study and career paths, could increase female game programmer job pool. According to a recent announcement sent by the campaign, research indicates that low enrollment rates of college-bound young women choosing engineering as their major have led to dwindling numbers of females entering the profession, suggesting that women do not perceive engineering as relevant to their educational or professional goals. Engineer Your Life is a national campaign that aims to close the gap by enlightening middle school and high school girls about the opportunities available in the world of engineering. The initiative is being spearheaded by members of the engineering community and WGBH Boston, who teamed up in 2004 to find out why girls weren't participating in engineering in greater numbers. The program is built around three key messages: 1) creativity has its rewards, 2) make a world of difference, and 3) explore the possibilities. Hopefully, say the campaign creators, the messages will help change the perceptions young women girls have about what engineering can be. Game developer Tara Teich, who works at LucasArts, is featured as a role model in the campaign. Teich, who holds a BS in computer science from Northwestern University, is currently working on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and has also put in time on the Empire Earth series at Sierra Entertainment. Anchored by an interactive, multimedia web site, Engineer Your Life showcases 11 other female engineers whose works embody the campaign's key messages and provides information on the paths they took to reach their professional goals. Their stories present engineering as a realistic option for young women who are interested in careers that make a difference in the world while being flexible, fun, and creative, and as a goal that is desirable and within their reach. The project is the culmination of three years of research conducted by a coalition of engineering organizations to determine why so few girls and women choose engineering as a career. Engineer Your Life was developed to directly address the problem, which stems from the inaccurate, but commonly-held belief that engineers must have exceptional math and science skills, and that they sit in cubicles all day doing math problems. The coalition has undertaken a national campaign to begin repositioning engineering as an interesting, enjoyable, social, lucrative, and flexible career choice for women; instead of engineering being perceived as an insurmountable set of hurdles, girls and women will be exposed to the field from the vantage point of being able to make a difference in people's lives. Major funding for Engineer Your Life is provided by The National Science Foundation and Northrop Grumman Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the United Engineering Foundation (ASCE, ASME, AICHE, IEEE, AIME).

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