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Female engineers promoting profession for girls

READ MORE: Female engineers promoting profession for girls

WILMINGTON -- Engineering is a male-dominated profession in this country, with females making up only ten percent of engineers.

Some local female engineers are trying to change that.

Fourteen-year-old Tabitha Thomas says most kids her age don't know much about engineering.

Trask Middle School student Tabitha Thomas said, "They mostly think of people who work on cars and all the big scientists and all them doing the little chemicals and stuff."

Shawn Lamb is a nuclear engineer for GE and one of the organizers of the Tech Girls Summit. She said, "Engineering is possible for women and it's just not a field that very old, wrinkly men with calculators like to do."

One-hundred-twenty of the top math, science and problem-solving female students from New Hanover County middle schools were invited to the summit. They learned about all different aspects of engineering, but the most popular part was getting hands-on.

They worked in teams to make their own lip gloss.

"I think it's pretty cool how they like get all these kinds of ingredients and stuff and they can put it together and make something," Thomas said.

One event organizer said growing up she didn't like playing with dolls as much as she liked building the doll houses. If any of these girls share those feelings, engineering could be just the career for them.

"I want them to think that it's cool and that they can do it too," Lamb said.

Thomas already knows she wants to be a lawyer, but after her time here says she would be interested in having at least some engineering background. "Everybody used to stereotype women," she said. "How they're like mostly home-wives and all that. It shows that women can do almost anything men can do."

A survey of 51 local female engineers showed the majority were mechanical engineers followed by electrical, chemical and industrial.

2007 Survey of 51 females in engineering-related fields

  • Average years since college 15
  • 25% mechanical
  • 20% electrical or computer
  • 15% chemical
  • 10% industrial
  • remaining nuclear, science, math or multiple degrees
  • 43% had graduate degrees
  • Over 70% had a parent in an engineering-related field
  • Over 60% were married
  • Nearly 60% had kids and pets
  • Over 60% have fun every day in their job
  • 70% think they’ve done a LOT harder things than engineering
  • Less than 1/3 have ALWAYS wanted to be an engineer
  • Over half became engineers because of the salary potential AND make more money than their significant others
  • Nearly half are the primary caregivers in their family
  • 63% said it gives them personal flexibility
  • 75% are satisfied with their career progress
  • 75% would do it over again
  • 84% are good organizers
  • 8 out of 10 do math in their head
  • Nearly half enjoyed playing with dolls as a child
  • Over 40% were in girls scouts
  • Half considered themselves "different" as a child
  • 8 out of 10 enjoyed math and were good at it
  • 6 out of 10 enjoyed chemistry, physics and English; 7 out of 10 were good at it
  • Half were considered outspoken as children
  • 1/3 knew how and liked to sew; 3/4 knew how and liked to cook or bake
  • 8 out of 10 enjoy music and reading, consider themselves confident and believe their life is balanced

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