By: Tricia Berry
I started as the Women in Engineering Program director at The University of Texas at Austin the year that DiscoverE launched Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. I knew it was something that our program should be doing. When we started Girl Day, we had 90 middle school girls who attended after school. After several years, one of our sponsors recommended we shift it to the weekend instead of a weekday. This opened a whole new world - we could access more campus classrooms, more volunteers and more attendees! As a result, Girl Day has become a true community event.
Here at The University of Texas at Austin, we run what we believe to be the largest Girl Day event anywhere! We typically host 6,000 to 8,000 girls, from kindergarten through 8th grade - plus their parents, teachers and Girl Scout leaders. We engage community partners, companies, non-profits, student organizations on campus, and student organizations on other university campuses around Texas. We also have current engineering undergraduates who were first introduced to engineering at Girl Day events as kids and are now engaging elementary and middle school girls as Girl Day Role Models and volunteers.
Last year we offered over 160 activities ranging from demonstrations and hands-on projects to shows. We do lots of activities that highlight different types of engineering. The demonstrations and shows can include everything from “Fun with Chemistry,” a Physics Circus and “Science in the Movies” where kids learn about the science behind movie stunts!
Girls who participate in these programs want to see and to connect with those female role models who can tell them about their experiences and answer their questions in a way that is accessible. It’s an opportunity to connect STEM to what young women are experiencing in everyday life. Being able to say to a girl “I’m an engineer” is powerful. For them to associate “female engineer” with those role models is extraordinary. Inspire a girl’s future and become a Girl Day Role Model today!
Planning a large-scale event can be intimidating, but DiscoverE has tutorials to show you how to do it. Check out this step-by-step guide to get you started.
Tricia Berry is the Director of the Women in Engineering Program at The University of Texas at Austin. She earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from University of Houston, Clear Lake.