Girl power in the plant

Could new teaching techniques be the key to getting girls interested in STEM?

By Jim Montague

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There must be 50 ways to start this story. I could say it’s bugged me that every salary survey I’ve ever covered about the control and automation field has shown that its gender-specific demographics are always about 98% male. Or I could once again echo the cry that everyone in the field is retiring, so it’s suffering an oozing brain drain, and where, oh where, are we going to get the next generation of engineers? Or I could report that, while doing some early research for this year’s two cover articles on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, I’ve turned up some crucial news. Finally, I could just give thanks for getting unchained from my desk, and once again having the opportunity to go out and cover a story in person. Take your pick.

Whatever the introduction, the way to solve control and automation’s gender imbalance and secure more new engineers is obviously to get more girls involved when they’re young, so they’ll choose to become technical professionals when they grow up. As it stands, the field looks more like a stunted, patriarchal nation state that holds back the minds and potential of half its young people because of some calcified and obsolete tribal imperatives. Sound familiar? Anyway, it’s time to move beyond coaching soccer and girls’ softball, and get more of our daughters into control, automation, STEM and other math and science-related fields and jobs.

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