Answers by Ms Terita Norton
Dear Mrs. Pinn,
Thank you for your support of the youth especially African American females. What I've found is that a number of female students regardless of ethnicity still consider engineering to be field for male or something boring. To change this perception I've found it helpful to relate the aspects of engineering that speak to feminine needs. For example talk to the cosmetic fields that use chemical, biomedical and electrical engineers to produce products like skin care items, and equipment for medical procedures like child birth. Hand-on activities are great for peaking their interest. In terms of African American girls in general it helps to see another African American in the field of engineering to which they can relate. Organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Society of Women Engineers (SWE) are great resources to share with your students. Additionally television programs like "Gadget Girls" also highlight the great accomplishments of female engineers and scientists. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance to your students.
There are times when I still get a little intimidated when I walk into a technical meeting and I'm the only female. I've learned however to be confident in my own technical ability. I've also realized that as a women I am able to bring a different perspective to the table. As individuals we all have our own strengths and weaknesses so although you may feel that your classmates have more experience than you, I am sure there are aspects of the course that they may not understand. The more you study and the more experience you obtain the greater your confidence will become. Internships and research assistantships are great ways to obtain additional technical experience. Also don't be afraid to ask questions. Needing help should never be seen as a weakness but rather an opportunity to grow. My source of inspiration during challenging times in college was my faith in God and the support I received from family members as friends.
The Aerospace Corporation