Studies have shown that women and minorities who start their engineering education, drop out of school or switch to other fields—far more so than white male students.
One reason for this is that many women and minorities are often ill prepared to succeed in a rigorous engineering program. A recent National Science Foundation study revealed that women received only 21 percent of bachelor's degrees in engineering, 27 percent in computer sciences, and 43 percent in physical sciences.
Administrators and educators continue to seek ways to enhance sensitivity, enrollment, and to create a "rainbow" pool of engineers. Creating inclusion in academia and the workplace is crucial to sustaining engineering as a profession and an industry.
In solving the problem, one needs to address the practices of educators at the lowest educational levels. For example, women and minorities are often discouraged by teachers and counselors from taking math and science courses mandated by the engineering major. Many eager young minority minds are often steered toward more traditional social science courses. Vocational "experts" and certain educators wrongfully advise these students that there may be fewer job opportunities in engineering and more viable career paths in the social sciences.
Educators and career counselors must encourage any student expressing an interest in engineering to vigorously pursue his or her goals. They must become enablers not disablers in this regard. Guidance and preparation are key in helping students become "equipped" for engineering college. Any student gifted in math and science should be taken under a teacher's wing and encouraged. Field trips to high tech companies should be part of every high school curriculum.
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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.