VIII. Conclusion

A. Introduction

For Canada to be competitive in the world market, it needs a workforce educated in engineering, science and technological trades and therefore the entire pool of talent needs to be tapped. To increase the number of women in engineering, among other things, they need to be exposed to engineering concepts and participate in hands-on activities. The "Discover Engineering" summer camp format has provided that venue.

As both the camp and follow-up surveys indicate, over the past nine years that the camp has been running, there has been a positive response to the camp activities and a high number of women who attend the camp go on to enroll in engineering programs at university. It is our belief that the experiences of "Discover Engineering" have confirmed that there are talented women students who are interested in engineering and will consider Engineering careers if they are given "permission" and encouragement. The camp experience legitimizes their ambitions and thus helps in their decision making.

B. The Future

We are committed to continue to provide young women with that opportunity, and to move "Discover Engineering" to the next step. There are two possible approaches to expanding the project. One is simply to increase the size of the camp. The other approach is to take the lessons from the camp, and the various projects that are known to work in the camp program, back into the high schools. Members of the WIE Committee already make presentations in Greater Toronto area high schools and participate in activities such as Engineering Week.

High school students' exposure to electricity and electrical technology is little and late. This is in contrast to chemistry courses, which students take much more extensively and earlier in the curriculum [14]. Perhaps this contributes to a trend observed in Figure 3, that for the girls who do decide to pursue engineering studies, there is a marked tendency to choose chemical engineering. It is astonishing how little contact and influence the university schools of engineering have on high school curriculum. This must change if the number of students entering engineering is to change. Interestingly, half-day sessions of engineering oriented activities organized in high schools throughout the school year can significantly expand students' exposure to engineering.

The WIE Committee at Ryerson has recently decided to launch a new high school outreach initiative. Activities will now include planning high school visits in the Fall of 1999 and a Career Day event in early Winter of 2000, as well as managing and directing information about Engineering to high schools. These strategies are part of an effort to achieve a minimum 5% increase in the enrolment of women students in Engineering programs over the next year. It is estimated that a total of 30 school visits will be made to high schools in the first year of operation.