WANTED: Female Students In ETI

Engineering, Technology, and Innovation has it all–except for female students.

WANTED: Female Students In ETI

Nakori Cachiguango, Staff Writer

 From the beginning of time, it has been boys vs. girls. As recently as just 50 years ago, gender roles remained deeply ingrained in society. Even today–although it feels as if society has left it all behind–recent statistics in the engineering field of study say otherwise. 

Take Elkhart High School, for example. Why is it that more boys than girls have chosen the Engineering, Technology and Innovation school of study? This question hangs in the air of every faculty member in the ETI building. Out of the 386 students enrolled in this school of study, approximately 50 students are female. That’s  about only 13% of the entire student body in the ETI program at Elkhart High.

Although this situation hasn’t been brought much attention to the other school of studies, it affects everyone in and outside of the engineering field. In order to become an official S.T.E.M. school, the administration must submit the variety of classes the school offers for students enrolled in the field. A submission of the type of courses and training each teacher in the engineering department took is also needed. The issue is this: In order to complete the final form, it is required that the ETI school of study  have a balanced amount of gender diversity compared to the rest of the five schools of studies–which, unfortunately, due to the lack of females in the department, cannot be fulfilled just yet. 

“My goal for this year, due to the lack of girls in our department, is to spread the word about this issue to the Freshman Division, as they would probably be more interested if they knew more about it,” explains Mr. Nick Seidl, who is in charge of the Intro to Engineering class. He also explained that he read in a recent college study that most middle schools don’t offer any engineering courses at all, so it’s almost completely new to them until they enter high school. Seidl suggests that if the school brought in visitors who work in this field, it would allow more students to become more willing to try out a few courses.

As it stands, when choosing schools of study, more girls leaned toward pathways that offered a more hospitable and compassionate environment. Recent studies also show that women are more likely to choose careers where they can be more nurturing and supportive toward other people. “Girls like helping people,” says Seidl with such certainty.

So, could this be a reason why? Maybe the girls in Elkhart High School would choose differently if they realized that the career pathways in the engineering field do include careers that help others, as well–such as biomedical engineers, who design and develop new ways to improve the tools used to protect human health. Or, what about an environmental engineer job, which allows the concept of engineering principles and natural sciences to merge in order to find new ways to stop problems like pollution and the dangers that like to surround our environment? These are only a few examples. The whole concept of what it is to be an engineer is to work, innovate, and design new ideas that help and improve the environment and the way society lives today.

While ETI has a long way to go in recruiting females to this school of study, there are 50 brave souls willing to blaze a trail for them. Alyssa Samuel, a sophomore, is one of them. “To sum up my feelings on being one of very few girls…in just one word, it would have to be awkward–very, very awkward.” This may be how Samuel felt when she first came through the classroom doors on the first day, but she also realizes that this feeling will change with time. One day, other sophomore girls will enter the ETI doors for the first time and sum up their feelings in a single word: comfortable.