About two weeks ago, I attended the birthday party of a good friend. In making conversation I met a woman who owned a sheep farm. After I had the pleasure of learning oodles of information about sheep, she said,
“Don’t you encourage girls to go into engineering?”
“Yes, and boys too.” I said.
Then, to my horror, she said, “My daughter would have made a great engineer, she thinks just like a man.”
I sat there for a few seconds with my mouth open, unable to form words. I knew I couldn’t change her perception of engineering in the space of a party without getting crazy and without enough time. In addition, her daughter was now in her late twenties with children so no immediate change in behavior would change the trajectory of her daughter’s life.
When I recovered, in my struggle to stay civil and keep my voice steady, I said,
“What does your daughter do now?”
She said, “She never really found the right thing. She is working as a receptionist.”
I stared at the floor as she went back to talking about sheep. How I wish she and her daughter had the opportunity to attend a Mother/Daughter TEA Workshop all those years ago. The event is a great education for mothers too and provides the support for a daughter to pursue a STEM career. In many workshops, I’ve had mothers approach me and ask if it was too late for them to become engineers. I’ve heard countless stories from mothers about how an event or person steered them away from engineering but now, they wanted to try again.
We don’t have to let history repeat itself. In the Mother/Daughter TEA workshop, mothers will see that their daughters make great engineers. The idea that engineering is only for people that think like men is skewed and outdated. Exposing mothers (or both parents) to engineering and to how her daughter can have a meaningful, prestigious and lucrative career is the one of the goals of the Mother/Daughter TEA workshop. They will understand the large range of career possibilities and see how and where their daughter’s talents fit. For any girl, having her mothers support can not only build a stronger relationship but can also increase her self-confidence. This event can provide the scaffolding to pursue her dreams.
The Mother/Daughter TEA is a 4-hour hands-on engineering workshop, usually on a Saturday morning, held in your community. If you aren’t doing these or planning one, contact me for more information. I still have about 10 Saturdays available this school year and would be happy to help you jump start an engineering program or recruit for your classes next year.