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Bringing Engineering To K 12 Classrooms Initiatives And Results

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Outreach: Future Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.274.1 - 8.274.10



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Paper Authors

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Lisa Anderson

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Kim Gilbride

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1692

Bringing engineering to K-12 classrooms – Initiatives and Results

Lisa Anderson, Kim Gilbride Women in Engineering Committee, Ryerson University Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Since 1989, the Women in Engineering Committee at Ryerson University has been developing strategies to increase the participation rate of young women in engineering at Ryerson. The Discover Engineering Summer Camp was launched in 1991, as a day camp targeting female students in grades 10 to 12. The aim of the camp was to introduce engineering concepts to young women through hands-on and creative activities. In 1999, the committee launched the Discover Engineering High School Workshop program with a goal to raise awareness about careers in engineering among all high school students. The High School Workshop program brings Discover Engineering directly to the classroom, and is offered in a co-ed classroom environment - not just to female students. This new initiative has allowed us to disseminate our information to a wider audience and to survey the high school students about their knowledge of and interest in engineering before and after participating in our programs. We also were able to study how role models within the family influenced their choices.

Our study found that the existing level of knowledge about engineering was low; over half of the students were ‘not sure’ what an engineer does and less than one-third could correctly describe engineering prior to the Discover Engineering Workshop program. Furthermore, less than one- third of the students were interested in becoming engineers, and although almost half of the male students were interested, less than one-quarter of the female students would consider pursuing engineering as a career. An equal percent of males and females cited family/parents as influencing their decision about career choice, yet the female students were more likely to be interested in engineering when there was an engineer already in their family - especially if the engineer was female.

This paper describes the initiatives undertaken by Ryerson’s Women in Engineering Committee and reports on the effect of the outreach program on students’ knowledge about engineering and interest in pursuing engineering as a career.


While women account for over 50% of the population and 55% of students enrolled in Canadian universities, only 20% of students enrolled in Canadian engineering programs are women1,2.

Enrollment statistics from the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE) show that the enrollment of women in Canadian engineering programs has quadrupled since 1975 (the first

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Anderson, L., & Gilbride, K. (2003, June), Bringing Engineering To K 12 Classrooms Initiatives And Results Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11774

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