Students, TI Employees Encourage Girls to Explore STEM Fields
March 3, 2014
In 2009, the first freshmen class at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, an all-girls school in the Dallas Independent School District, visited UT Dallas to learn more about STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields and careers in engineering.
The students had come to campus for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, better known as Girl Day.
This year, the relationship between the school and the University continued as 77 students from Irma Rangel once again rolled up their sleeves for hands-on activities.
“Our primary goal is to change how girls think about engineering, science and math. When they leave UT Dallas, they leave with a greater idea of what an engineer is and how they make an impact in the world,” said Narcely Ruiz, assistant director of the Carolyn Lipshy Galerstein Women's Center, which cosponsored Girl Day. “We want to instill confidence that the girls, too, can be engineers.”
“Our primary goal is to change how girls think about engineering, science and math. When they leave UT Dallas, they leave with a greater idea of what an engineer is and how they make an impact in the world. We want to instill confidence that the girls, too, can be engineers.”
After hearing from speakers that included senior Mrinalini Issac, president of the UT Dallas chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, the girls were split into teams and challenged with scenarios. With the guidance of team leaders, they created practical solutions to their problems. Some students were charged with creating a temporary housing structure using only limited supplies like bamboo sticks, string and a tarp; others were challenged to construct musical instruments out of rubber bands, a shoe box and duct tape.
The students also met with female STEM students at UT Dallas, and female representatives from Texas Instruments spoke to the girls about their careers.
“In addition to sparking a lifelong interest in science and engineering, Girl Day serves a dynamic purpose in developing mentoring relationships between UT Dallas STEM students, industry professionals and high school students, and furthering the advancement of strong women for a better world,” said Lauren DeCillis, director of the Women’s Center.
Over the years, the Women’s Center has provided opportunities for female STEM students to connect with one another beyond Girl Day. These relationships and resources have encouraged the high school students to enroll at UT Dallas. Currently, six graduates of Irma Rangel, all who attended Girl Day, are University students.
Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is an international event celebrated annually during Engineers Week, a time dedicated to increasing public dialogue about many aspects of engineering. In the field of engineering, the ratio of men to women in the workplace is nearly 9-to-1.
Girl Day at UT Dallas is sponsored by the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and the Galerstein Women’s Center in the University’s Office of Diversity and Community Engagement.