Many high school senior girls in the Top of Utah are capitalizing on the trend of women moving into the fields of math and sciences, and it has been great for them.
Bonneville senior Elizabeth Radcliffe feels that she was welcomed into Weber School District's Project Lead the Way Program with open arms. "It was never like, 'You're a girl, we don't want you.' It was more like, 'You're a girl, please come do this,' '' Radcliffe said of her experience with the program.
She said she never thought twice about being a girl in the program; it was more of a confidence issue for her personally. She wasn't sure if she was smart enough to be an engineer, but after her first classes she quickly came to realize she was. As for being female, she feels it works in her favor.
Because the field is so heavily made up of men, more and more employers want the input a woman can provide, said Roy High School junior Julia Satterthwaite. She has seen the way a woman's view puts a different spin on the groups she participates in with her engineering classes.
"We offer a different way of looking at things that is very important," Satterthwaite said.
She recently attended a world robotics competition in California and was a leader for her group -- not because she was asked, but just because she was the one everyone looked to for help and support.
Fremont senior Tiffany Varnell will graduate with 20 college credit hours earned through Project Lead the Way and is thrilled to be one of the women moving forward in engineering.
"There's still a lot more work to be done, but we are breaking the barrier every year," Varnell said.
More and more girls are signing up to be in the program every year. She too, feels the input a woman can give in the engineering field is invaluable. "We are designing things being sold to both girls and boys," she said. She and many of her classmates have also enjoyed the chance it has given them to mingle with the opposite sex, which they wouldn't have in a normal classroom setting.
"I have made some great friends," she said.
Ogden High School senior Caitlyn Makin said girls often buy into the stereotype just as much as boys do.
"Girls think they can only design and not do the actual engineering," she said.
She knows now that isn't true. She watched her sister go into engineering and didn't think it was for her, but decided to try it out and found that she loved it.
"I was good with math, but have always been a good artist and can make things exact," she said. It's not about whether you're a girl or a boy, it's about what you're good at, she said.
Glenn Prisk, the Project Lead the Way coordinator for Weber School District, loves it when girls join his program, because he says they bring great ideas to the table. He and Ogden High teacher Roger Snow are seeing more and more girls come into the classes, which both say is a good thing.
They say there is a stereotype about the kind of girls who take engineering classes, but that is simply not true. Any girl can find success in the programs and they do. Prisk points out:
"Many of them are my leaders."
For complete listings of each school's graduates see the Standard-Examiner's e-edition.