The following is from the April 27, 2008, edition of The Dallas Morning News.
By RACHEL SLADE
The Dallas Morning News
See CBS 11 News story on Sally Ride at SMU
About 800 girls launched marshmallows, collected autographs and learned about science and math careers on Saturday at the Sally Ride Science Festival at Southern Methodist University.
The festival – a partnership between Irving-based Exxon Mobil Corp. and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space – featured hands-on science activities, a question-and-answer session with Dr. Ride, and more than 20 workshops designed to spark interest in math and science among fifth- through eighth-grade girls.
Dr. Ride, who hosts about 15 festivals a year, said social factors and ingrained stereotypes hinder women from pursuing math and science careers.
"It's really important to show girls, particularly in fifth through eighth grade, that there are lots of girls who like science and introduce them to women scientists and engineers," Dr. Ride said. "Science is really creative, very collaborative and a lot of fun." . . .
While the national average for female enrollment in college engineering programs sits at about 19 percent, the SMU School of Engineering boasts a 40 percent female enrollment, among the highest in the country.
Geoffrey Orsak, SMU's engineering dean, said the school has set a goal of 50 percent female enrollment by 2010 and that some programs within the school already have reached that plateau.
"Where there are girls, we will work to keep them excited about science," Dr. Orsak said. "They bring a totally new approach to problem-solving and empathy in a technological era."
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