By Caroline Zhang
Senior Meera Chander knows what type of career she wants to pursue. She decided to join TechHOUNDS, a robotics team at this school, as a freshman and continues to participate in it. Chander said she plans to work in aerospace engineering.
“I have always had an inclination to solve problems and in TechHOUNDS you get to use your creativity to do so and engineering fits with those interests,” she said.
According to TechHOUNDS sponsor George Giltner, Chander is one of an increasing number of females on the TechHOUNDS. He said, “We started off the program with one or two girls. This year there’s around 10 girls out of 70 members, which is a significant increase.”
TechHOUNDS is not the sole example of growing numbers of women in engineering. According to engineeringtrends.com, the total number of engineering doctorates awarded to women is rising. All engineering faculty members of universities need such a doctorate. In 2005, women received over 1,100 doctorates. This number has risen significantly from 1984, when about 200 doctorates went to women.
Chander said she attributes this growth to the increasing exposure of women to engineering and technical fields. “More and more women are getting exposed to what they can do and what is offered in the engineering fields.”
Chander said increased exposure is due to the decline of the stereotypical idea of males being more experienced in hands-on activities, which can discourage females from pursuing a career in engineering. “A girl may walk in here and see all these machines and think, ‘I don’t know how to use any of these power tools, but these guys do and they may feel really behind, but in reality everyone is starting from square one,” she said.
According to Chander, she became interested in engineering early in her high school career. “Engineering is the practical application of math and science. I was interested in science early on, but when I took my first industrial tech class as a freshman, I absolutely loved it and decided that this was what I wanted to do,” Chander said. “It was kind of intimidating, going to my first TechHOUNDS meeting, but the engineering itself drew me in.”