Female college students encourage younger girls to enter technical fields

April 24 2007

Female students majoring in a variety of technology areas at Indiana State University are hosting a day of career exploration for Girl Scouts.

The scouts, from the central Indiana region, will be introduced to careers in aviation, construction, packaging, and robotics through workshops led by female students in ISU’s College of Technology on Saturday, April 28.

“These workshops will provide the Girl Scouts with hands-on experiences in design, problem solving, and team building; while increasing their awareness of opportunities for exciting careers in technology,” said Bev Bitzegaio, outreach coordinator for technology student services at ISU.

The career exploration day for girls ages 13 and up is the first of several events being planned by F.I.T.: Females in Technology -- a new student organization formed this semester to provide a network for females majoring in technical fields at ISU.

Sarah Rodie, a sophomore mechanical engineering technology major from West Terre Haute, came up with the idea for F.I.T. while a student worker in Bitzegaio’s office.

“We looked at gender statistics for the College of Technology, and we discovered only 25 percent of our undergraduate and graduate students were females,” Rodie said.

After excluding majors in the College of Technology related to education and training, Rodie found that females made up less than 8 percent of the enrollment in technical majors.

In her pursuit of a technology degree, Rodie says she has not encountered the kind of resistance that some of her classmates have.

“A lot of the girls I talked to said they were encouraged not to enter a technical field,” Rodie said. “They even had guidance counselors in high school tell them, ‘No, you shouldn’t do that. That’s not a good career to get into as a women.’ I was shocked to hear that, because there are great opportunities for girls in technology fields.”

Rodie herself has been experiencing some of the opportunities through her co-op job at the Toyota plant in Princeton.

“I hope to continue my career in automotive manufacturing when I graduate,” Rodie said, “because I have really enjoyed the work I’ve done for Toyota, working with the paint shop engineering team and on shop-readiness for new vehicle launches.”

Rodie and the other student organizers hope that F.I.T. will break down the barrier that seems to keep women from considering technology-based fields.

“We hope that F.I.T. will act as a support system for our current and incoming female technology students through professional development, including guest speakers, workshops, field trips, networking and social gatherings,” Rodie said.

Community outreach also is an important part of the new organization, she says.

“Through events like the one we are putting together this weekend for the Girl Scouts, we hope to encourage younger girls to check out what these fields have to offer,” Rodie said.

Upcoming outreach events include F.I.T. members visiting the Boston Scientific manufacturing facility in Spencer on May 9 to meet with female engineers employed there, and students from Owen Valley High School; and F.I.T. for the Future, in which high school girls will be invited to an informative, hands-on day of technology career exploration at ISU’s College of Technology on Sept. 28.

The College of Technology also is in the process of filming females working in technical fields, as a way of showcasing role models for young girls.

“The DVD we are producing will tell the stories of how these women chose their career paths in technology,” Bitzegaio said. “The stories we are getting are very diverse and interesting. I hope they will offer inspiration to young girls as they explore their options.”

To register for the Girl Scout Technology Day on April 28, contact Holly Herbert, Girl Scouts program development manager, at (317) 924-6834 or hherbert@girlscoutsindiana.org. Deadline is Thursday, April 26.

GIRL SCOUTS AT ISU COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY SCHEDULE:
9:00-9:15 -- Registration in the atrium of the Myers Technology Center
9:15-9:30 -- Welcome and introduction, Room 105
9:35-10:30 -- Workshop(s) in lab classrooms
10:40-11:35 -- Workshop(s) in lab classrooms
11:45-12:40 -- Lunch in Room 105
12:45-1:30 -- Workshop(s) in lab classrooms
1:35-2:30 -- Workshop(s) in lab classrooms
2:35-2:45 -- Wrap-up in Room 105

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Contact: Bev Bitzegaio, Indiana State University College of Technology, (812) 237-3575, bitz@indstate.edu; Office located in the Myers Technology Center, 215

Writer: Katie Spanuello, media relations assistant director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3790 or kspanuello@isugw.indstate.edu

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Female students majoring in a variety of technology areas at Indiana State University are hosting a day of career exploration for Girl Scouts.

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