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ExxonMobil hosts 20th Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day - a new generation of women falls in love with STEM

1 month 3 weeks 3 days ago Thursday, February 22 2024 Feb 22, 2024 February 22, 2024 6:05 PM February 22, 2024 in News

BATON ROUGE - Science and math isn't just for the men, it's for the ladies, too.

ExxonMobil hosted its 20th Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. The annual event aims to shape the lives and futures of young women — with hopeful intentions in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in the community.

According to a 2021 U.S. National Science Foundation report, 24% of individuals aged 18 to 74 in the United States were employed in STEM occupations. When broken down by sex, 29% of men worked in the STEM field compared to 18% of women. Over a 10-year period from 2011 to 2021, the amount of U.S. women in STEM jumped by 31% from 9.4 million women to 12.3 million women.

"There’s so many studies that show that at a certain age, girls start thinking they’re just not good enough in science and mathematics," said Omaina Aziz, a contracts manager and the Women Interest Network (WIN) president at ExxonMobil. "And so they don’t pursue these degrees, they just feel like it’s not for them. So, the fact that they’re thinking about this, that's opening up their minds, that they think there's a possibility they could enter into it, that’s incredible."

Aziz is the first woman in her family who pursued a STEM degree and career. She said that the phrase "women in STEM" lights her up inside, and she wishes she had a program like Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day when she was younger.

ExxonMobil invited over 100 special ladies from the Baton Rouge area to participate in Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Over seven different high schools were represented, including Baker High School, Brusly High School, Helix Mentorship Academy, Istrouma High School, Northeast High School, Scotlandville High School and Tara High School.

When asked the million dollar question "What do you want to be when you grow up?", Tara High School freshman Gisele Lattibeaudiere said she wants to be an environmental engineer. Jaslene Harris, an Istrouma High School freshman, said she wants to be an engineer or travel nurse. Makayla Drake, a Baker High School sophomore, said she wants to be a psychologist but that after today, she may want to be an engineer.

All three are leaving Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day empowered and with their eyes opened.

"It’s male and female," Drake said. "Females can do as much as men. We are very smart. We come with the hands, we come with the knowledge. Women in STEM is just another word for men in stem. It’s what we are together."

Barbara Beckmann, a long-time ExxonMobil employee and mentor at the event, is entering her 63rd year and is the longest-standing employee of ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge location. Beckmann was the first female engineer to be hired in Baton Rouge, and she is also the first woman to graduate from the University of Mississippi with an engineering degree.

As Beckmann stands in the conference room with over 100 girls of the next generation, she laughs with liveliness and hope as she watches young girls fiddle with spaghetti sticks to make a pasta tower — a lesson in physics and engineering. But really, she's watching young women fall in love with STEM for the first time.

When asked how many women she has mentored over the years at Exxon, Beckmann laughed and responded, "more than I can count."

"If you've got this many young women that are interested in engineering, then we have a great world ahead," Beckmann said with eyes wide open and full of hope.

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