The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), with funding from the ExxonMobil Foundation and in partnership with Girls Scouts of the USA, WGBH’s Design Squad, and Techbridge, held the annual “Invent It. Build It.” (IIBI) in October 2022. The event took place at the SWE annual conference in Houston, Texas. Participants included 188 middle school (MS) girls, 82 high school (HS) girls, plus 78 of their parents/guardians and educators (PEP).
One of the primary goals of SWE outreach activities is to expose girls to engineering and increase their awareness of what an engineer is. “Invent it. Build it.” is an event encouraging girls to learn about engineering and pursue engineering careers. The program offers hands-on engineering experiences for girls while parents and educators learn about engineering careers, scholarships, and resources. Both groups explore the Invent It. Build It. EXPO, where they discover engineering clubs, camps, and after-school programs. Through events like IIBI, SWE aims to help increase girls’ confidence in engineering-related skills.
At the 2022 IIBI, middle school, high school, and parent/educators were asked if they could identify what engineers do in their jobs. As in past years, the difference between reported engineering knowledge before and after the event increased.
After the event, middle and high school girls were also asked about their confidence in performing certain engineering-related skills, including problem-solving, building, and designing. The majority of participants felt confident in their abilities to perform these skills.
In addition to being asked about their engineering knowledge and confidence in engineering-related areas, participants were also asked to rate their interest in becoming an engineer or technologist before and after IIBI. Girls used a scale from 1(strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) to indicate their level of interest. The results show that high school students’ average scores increase from 4.2 to 4.5.
Other measures used to assess the efficacy of IIBI involved determining participants’ inclination to learn more about engineering and technology, as well as understanding the influence of the role models they engaged with during the event.