Girls Take On Engineering With GEM Club

GEM Club Poster for Club Rush

GEM Club Poster for Club Rush

Nahya Pelito, Staff Writer

One of Vista’s new clubs this year, GEM Club, aims to break the barrier between boys and girls in the engineering field. At Vista del Lago, engineering classes consist of boys being the majority and girls as the minority; however, GEM Club intends to change that.

“Our club will be offering many different opportunities to girls to make them feel more comfortable to pursue a STEM field,” said junior Afrah Eusuff, Secretary of GEM Club. “We will have guest speakers, little seminars to teach basic coding — basic skills that we would offer. You don’t have to have any prior knowledge. You can come and join because you should start to look into fields and see what you’re good at or what doesn’t fit you.”

In spite of the overwhelming, complex ideas of engineering, one may find themselves drawn into STEM fields. STEM fields are subjects that focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Anyone, whether a man or woman, can connect to these subjects, and if they do engineering might be the way to go.

In fact, all students who were introduced to these subjects in school had some prior knowledge of them. “I know a lot of girls who are interested in STEM fields, but they’re scared to pursue the engineering field because they feel like it’s all guys — like guys are the only one’s in engineering, but it’s not. We want to encourage girls to come see what it’s about,” said GEM Club President Melanie Cooray.

Engineers outside of school hold a similar viewpoint on the issue. Madhavi Annavajjyala is a computer software engineer who works at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. More specifically, she works with the IT Team in generating a program that sorts out tests to select future correctional officers.

“Lots of girls think that technology fields are too techy and hard and all kinds of assumed views and notions on these fields, whereas, in fact, science and technology fields are a lot of fun and high paying if only you are open to exploring them,” said Annavajjyala.

Evidently, the numbers in females are still low in comparison to males. “…considering there are 4.6 males to every female in the engineering field, we need to make girls understand that they can and should look into engineering,” said Eusuff.

According to a Women in Engineering statistic, “Only 9 percent of the engineering workforce is female. And only 6 percent of engineers and technicians (i.e. CEng, IEng, EngTech) are women.”

This number is significantly low and reflects on how today’s generation of females aren’t progressing into this field. If it’s the issue of lacking motivation or the courage to become future engineers of our generation, it probably stems from three reasons:

“Family members are not in the science, technology, or engineering field, [so] girls aren’t aware of those opportunities and advantages of those fields, or a lack of exposure to these fields,” said Annavajjyala.

The Women in Engineering Statistics from March 2016 reads, “Diversity matters: companies are 15 percent more likely to perform better if they are gender diverse.”

There are benefits to being an engineer, as well. If you’re one to worry about time management, “Computer engineers also don’t need to be tied to daily work hours. For example, if I am given a project, I can take care of my family needs during the day and put in a couple of hours from home after dinner without going anywhere,” said Annavajjyala.

GEM Club serves a starting point for boosting confidence and exploration of engineering for girls, showing them that they have a right to be in a field that is supposedly not meant for them. Girls are encouraged to take a stand, in putting themselves out there in the world of engineering, hence with Vista’s new GEM Club. The future lies ahead of what our STEM students — male and female– will become and how they will change the world.