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IRVING, Texas -- More than 55 girls from middle schools near ExxonMobil's headquarters here visited the site as part of the company's annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Hands-on activities were part of a broader companywide initiative designed to encourage girls' interest in pursuing science, technology, engineering and math studies, and careers.
While at the facility, the students learned about the wide variety of career options available in the fields of math and science, and the growing need for more students who can solve today's problems with creative solutions. As part of their engineering experience, the girls heard presentations on engineering careers, interacted with a current engineering student and participated in two design experiments, Marshmallow Mania and Raft Rally.
"Interest in math and science careers is not keeping pace with the need for engineers in the workforce, and women are significantly underrepresented in related positions," said Truman Bell, senior program officer for ExxonMobil. "It's imperative that we capture young women's attention and curiosity when they are in middle school and show them the fun and excitement that a future in engineering can hold."
According to the National Engineers Week Foundation, women make up 46 percent of the U.S. workforce but hold just 26 percent of related science, engineering and technology positions. Of the more-than-two-million employed engineers in this country, fewer than 10 percent are women.
ExxonMobil recently partnered with Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, to address the under-representation of women in science fields, by developing the "Sally Ride Science Academy brought to you by ExxonMobil." The academy is based on a train-the-trainer model and works with upper elementary and middle school teachers to equip them with tools and skills to showcase the diverse array of creative, rewarding scientific professions.
Dr. Ride attended the Irving Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day to share with the girls her experiences as an astronaut and scientists and participate in the hands-on experiments.
"In order for girls to consider careers in science, they need to see themselves as 'doers' of science," said Dr. Ride. "Through the Sally Ride Science Academy and events such as Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, girls not only engage with science and engineering concepts through hands-on activities, but also have access to role models and living examples of the variety of careers in science and engineering."
Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is a national priority for ExxonMobil, which holds events at 14 company sites and reaches more than 3,500 students annually. It is held in conjunction with National Engineers Week, Feb. 14-19, 2010.
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