2018 Women in Engineering Empowerment Essay – Lauren Robinson

As a little girl, I carried around a toy screw driver instead of a doll. My mother and father supported my
passion for toy trucks, Legos, cars, and building. My father always let me help him fix things around the
house. There are many girls who had the same passion that I did as a little girl, but were not nearly as
lucky as I am. One of the largest obstacles in getting women to join the STEM fields is the stigma around
STEM and its association with men.
It is extremely hard to change how a society thinks, but there are ways to gradually prove that a passion
for STEM is not related to gender. I believe that starting young is very important. There are programs
for children, like Camp Invention, (a camp where children learn how to design and build their own
inventions) that encourage young children to develop their passion for innovation and invention. It is
fun and helps children express their creativity. I think that just by making after-school programs for kids
in elementary school that relate to STEM, and that are also fun, could help break down the stigma at a
young age.
I also think that marketing is very important when it comes to breaking down stigmas. If companies
could create toys that either depict women working in STEM, or toys that are specifically targeted at
girls that relate to stem, they could prove that STEM is fun and is not related to gender. For example, a
company could sell a Barbie doll set where the Barbie is an engineer, or sell a tool set that has colors like
pink and purple, which usually attract young girls.
Encouraging companies to market STEM towards younger girls is not an easy task. It is also not an
impossible task. I have already seen companies like Barbie and Lego specifically market strong women
and Legos to girls. By partnering with toy companies such as those mentioned previously, a team of
women in STEM could work with toy companies (or even start their own company) to help break down
the social stigma behind STEM.
Though I believe that breaking down stigmas at an early age is important, I also believe that continued
encouragement is extremely important. I have seen large efforts in middle schools and high schools to
encourage girls into STEM, and I do believe it worked for me. In each stage of life, it is important to help
girls strive for what they want to do despite social pressure. I believe that starting young is very
important, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents letting me carry around my toy
screw driver.