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Getting girls excited about engineering

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Men outnumber woman in engineering - but it's hoped a series of workshops for Rotorua girls will help change that.

Massey University associate professor Jane Goodyer has launched a nationwide initiative to encourage more girls to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industries.

Named Hello Cafe, the initiative is comprised of a series of nationwide free after school
workshops for 10 to 13-year-old girls, funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's "Unlocking Curious Minds" fund.

The workshops begin this Wednesday from 3.30pm to 5pm and will continue for the next 10 weeks.

Rotorua will be taking enrolments for the next two weeks to try to hit the goal of 15 girls - there are currently seven enrolled.

A manufacturing engineer by trade, Ms Goodyer said perceptions of STEM as male dominated industries could turn girls off pursuing study at a young age.

"Statistics New Zealand Indicators 2015 show that we have over 80,000 more women than men in New Zealand, yet women are outnumbered in many innovative, problem solving industries like engineering."

To address this, Hello Cafe uses an approach called "humanitarian engineering" to engage girls in STEM study.

"Research shows that girls are motivated by the idea that they can make a difference in
somebody's day to day life.

"We have designed Hello Cafe workshops around real life problems that people are facing around the world to try and tap into this. The aim is to encourage girls to see STEM as a way they can really make a difference," Ms Goodyer said.

Each workshop is led by Hello Cafe Ambassadors; women with successful careers in STEM
industries.

"We have nearly 60 Hello Cafe Ambassadors who are perfect examples of this, and they bring their experiences as engineers in many different industries all around New Zealand."

One of Rotorua's ambassadors is Marnie Fornusek, a graduate engineer with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. She was a maths teacher before retraining as an engineer.

She said if she had "got" engineering as a practical application of maths and science when she was younger, she may have come to engineering as a career path earlier in life.

"I wanted to try something different and this worked well with the skills that I like using, I like being outside and I am a river engineer so I get to do that.

"There is a low per cent age of girls going into engineering and learning about STEM subjects, we are hoping this will interest them.

"It's all free and because it's at a cafe there will be hot chocolate," she said.

To enrol head to www.hellocafe.co.nz.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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