Women Engineers @ the Beach, a biannual conference at CSULB designed to attract young girls to engineering, was awarded the prestigious Kimberly-Clark Outreach Event Award in October by the National Society of Women Engineers (SWE).
CSULB’s SWE Chapter President Ellen Skow and Vice President Albano Luzardo accepted the award during the SWE’s national conference at the Long Beach Convention Center.
“This award is truly an honor,” said Lily Gossage, director of engineering recruitment and retention for CSULB’s College of Engineering. “When I developed this event in 2001 along with an art student and a few faculty members to promote engineering to academically high-performing grade-school girls, I never anticipated that it would grow to more than 50 schools in 10 school districts across California. Our broad range of participation has made Women Engineers @ the Beach very popular, so much so that it is now a registered event with the National Girls Collaborative Project.”
Currently, women comprise less than 10 percent of the engineering workforce and represent less than 15 percent of the engineering student population. Gossage believes that aside from introducing young girls to engineering, the conference also focuses on encouraging school counselors and teachers to promote engineering at their school sites.
“While there is much research that tells us girls are just as capable as boys at succeeding in math- and science-based careers, opportunities for young girls to explore the mathematical-logical part of cognitive thought are limited,” said Gossage. “Socio-cultural issues and male and female expectations of career roles are barriers that often delay the discovery of the career until much later.”
Gossage believes it is important to promote the social acceptance by young girls of women as engineers during their formative years when there is plenty of time for academic preparation. “It is important for parents, teachers and counselors to enforce the belief that engineering is also a woman’s world,” she said.