A New Zealand National Outreach Program – Inspiring Young Girls in Humanitarian Engineering

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Jane Goodyer Ishani B. Soysa

Abstract

The representation of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and professions fall far short of their representation in other various disciplines. Finding ways to increase underrepresented populations in STEM fields continues to be a major initiative in education. Outreach programs that demonstrate the social benefits of engineering are an effective way to engage students’ interest and enhance their understanding of the theory and practice of science and engineering. This paper describes the design of an outreach program that provided a learning experience on the nature of engineering (via community service activities) to school girls aged 10 to 13 years in New Zealand. The objective of the program was to raise aspirations of young girls to pursue a career in engineering, by demonstrating the social benefits of engineering and thus develop enthusiasm for STEM subjects applied in the context of humanitarian engineering. The strategies for improving similar outreach programs and the lessons learned are also discussed.

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