There has been a lot of attention on how important it is to increase young girls’ interest in math and science and nurturing them throughout the process. Obviously, creating the engineers of tomorrow starts with those seeds being planted today. However, a part of me remembers when we were having this same conversation 20 years ago! In fact, I was having that conversation with my daughter, who was eight years old at the time. She was one of the success stories. She had parents who told her she could be whoever she wanted to be. All she had to do was figure out what that was and we’d be behind her 110%. She listened and graduated with a degree in Biomedical Engineering, went on to join Teach For America (teaching High School Math, I’ll point out) and then to Medical School. She is now a pediatrician in residency.
Although her path didn’t take her into the energy sector, she was a role model to other girls along the way. While she was teaching I know she gave the same speech to the girls she taught that we’d given her 20 years before: “Be whoever you want to be.”
My point with that story is that supporting and directing young girls with math and science interests is foundational stuff. Any business in the energy sector ought to be doing something with their time, talent and treasure in nurturing future female engineers to enter this industry sector. Have you looked at how many young women are graduating in the top 10% of their classes these days? It’s a high percentage. Have you noticed how many are valedictorian or salutatorian of their graduating class? They couldn’t have done it without doing well in their math and science courses. So, why aren’t we seeing more of those young women wanting to enter the energy sector? Maybe it’s because they aren’t sought out early enough. Is your company proactively doing something in this space to get their name out to these students early enough? If not, ask if you can do something to raise your company’s name recognition. Even if it’s going and talking about your career in the industry and how you got there, it would be valuable. Many of these young women simply need role models to see the path has already been created. They need a little direction and assistance with a few steps along the way. That’s where we all come in to help that next generation, and the one after that. Even if you are just starting out in your career, consider being a mentor. It will offer you a development experience you’ll never forget because you’ll be helping to increase the talent pipeline of women in this industry. The more engineers we can grow for this industry the better!