McDaniel grew up believing that only men became engineers. But then
her paradigm changed.
the urging of a high school teacher, she attended a national program
called Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) that encourages young women
to take coursesand to consider career optionsin math
program opened up opportunities I hadn't considered,
says McDaniel, who now works for Agere Systems in Orlando and co-chairs
an annual EYH conference at the University of Central Florida. If
it wasn't for EYH, I would not have been an engineer, because
the picture that's always been painted for me is that engineers
are men, she says. Seeing women who were successful
in a traditionally male-dominated field changed my outlook. If they
could do it, so could I.
can do response is what EYH ideally hopes for from all
its participants. Considering its roots, that's not surprising.
EYH was one of four intervention models created in the mid-1970s
by the Math/Science Network, an Oakland, California-based organization
that strives to increase the number of women in math- and science-related
professions. The network was founded by women in industry who had
few, if any, female peers and by math educators who saw few females
in classes that weren't required.
began to license EYH out nationally in the early 1980s with the
idea that people everywhere could do this and that women in math
and science would be happy to volunteer, says Betty Levitin,
executive director of the Math/Science Network.
more than 100 conferences are held annually in 30 states, usually
at universities or colleges. To date, more than 525,000 students,
mainly middle schoolers, have participated. The conferences, which
are funded and planned locally, generally include a keynote speaker
as well as various hands-on and informational workshops led by women
scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. Some conferences also
offer workshops for parents that include discussions on financial
aid and how to help a child study.
biggest supporters have been the women in the community who come
and participate, the doctors, engineers, and professors, says
Lucy Morse, who started EYH at the University of Central Florida
in 1984 after becoming the first woman there to get a Ph.D. in engineering.
Major organizers of these conferences include the Society of Women
Engineers, the American Association of University Women, and the
Association for Women in Science.
even in 2002, some young women still lack the encouragement to go
into math or science, says Morse. I still think there a lot
of people who aren't convinced that women can go into those
fields...We've got to get young women to take those courses
so that if they decide to go into a math or science field at some
point, they're not left behind.
that goal in mind, EYH is not only designed for students who are
college-bound but also for students who may choose to practice a
skilled trade or get a technical degree.
would hope that all of these young women would get at least a B.A.,
but I also know the reality of America in the 21st century,
says Levitin. The more math they take, the better off they'll
be, and the better the opportunity to advance in a job of any kind,
even if it's the difference between a sales clerk and a manager.
But I mostly want to hear about young people who become engineers.
Wheeler is one such participant who became an engineer. She enthusiastically
remembers her first encounter with EYH. After all, the keynote speaker
was Sally Ride. My impression of the program was that you
could be a woman in science and not be a stereotypical geek,
says Wheeler, who received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at
Stanford and works at the Lawrence-Livermore National Lab in California.
I was bowled over by Sally Ride, that she would take time
out of her busy schedule. She told us if we sent her a stamped envelope,
she would send back an autographed picture. I still, to this day,
have the picture.
like other former participants, is giving back to the program that
set her on her current path by volunteering. She co-chairs an EYH
program in San Ramon, Calif. I get so much enjoyment out of
the hands-on workshops, she says. It reminds me again
why science is fun.