By Megan Rogers, 2018 Gold Award Girl Scout
For my Gold Award, I organized and implemented a week-long workshop for high school girls in Wake County for my Girl Scout Gold Award to expose the girls to engineering and confront the STEM gender disparity. This 150-hour project marked a period of personal growth as it allowed me to delve deeper into the world of engineering.
My event took place at NCSU through the assistance of Girls Engineering Change and the Women in Science and Engineering program following months of preparation with engineering professionals. For two days, female engineers from businesses in the Raleigh-Durham area (Novozymes, EPA, Optum, IBM, Skanska) came to speak to the girls and perform interactive projects with them. The girls also toured the Analytical Instrumentation Facility and Material Science Engineering buildings. The last three days consisted of tours of engineering companies: CaptiveAire Raleigh and Youngsville and NovoNordisk Engineering.
My research regarding the gender disparity in engineering revealed that the major causes of the lack of women in engineering are stereotypes, lack of supportive role models, and misunderstandings of what engineering is. Each element of my workshop aimed to address one of these factors; I brought in female engineers to serve as mentors to the girls, and I encouraged the speakers to explain their field of engineering and answer the girls’ questions about it to prevent misunderstandings.
Since celebrating women in engineering encourages young girls to pursue engineering, I submitted a state senatorial statement that was read in a Senate session in June. The statement covered statistics regarding the lack of women in engineering, the causes of the disparity, and the importance of recognizing women for their accomplishments in engineering. The senate used the statement to commemorate female engineers in North Carolina.
This project allowed me to grow in many different aspects of my life, including leadership and interpersonal skills. I had to step outside of my comfort zone, especially in regards to communication, to complete such a large-scale, complex project. Corresponding with professionals and parents via email, as well as having meetings with engineers and making small talk with the girls, pushed me to improve my communication skills and confidence. As public speaking and the communication of ideas are essential in the workplace, this project helped me to strengthen real-life skills that I struggled with in the past.
Additionally, this project helped me expand my organizational and planning skills. I had to think of every detail of each day prior to the event in order to have all the resources and scheduling exact. I also learned that leadership is not about flaunting authority but showing respect for my subordinates, having a quiet authority through confidence, and serving as a good example.
As a result of this project, I learned that I have a passion for organization and efficiency, which helped confirm that I want to pursue industrial and systems engineering. It helped me to develop my skills and interests and understand how I can apply those to a career that has a positive impact on others. Earning my Gold Award helped me grow as a leader and member of my community, and it opened doors for incredible opportunities like being selected as a National Merit Scholarship Recipient and VFW’s 3rd place Scout of the Year. I highly recommend girls to challenge themselves to make a difference in their community and their own lives by pursuing their Gold Award.
Becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout opens girls like Megan up to a world of opportunity by giving them the chance to utilize skills built throughout their time with Girl Scouts to make a lasting change. Start your Gold Award journey today by visiting our website.