Inspire! Resources: ENCOURAGE!

Encourage! Leading Women Engineers Encourage the Next Generation is part of the Inspire! Educational Video Collection, based on Dr. Laura Ettinger’s game-changing work for the National Science Foundation that captures the essence of trailblazing American women in engineering, and aims to inspire middle school and early high school students to pursue the STEM fields.

At 4 minutes and 40 seconds running time, it is a short and poignant tool that will capture the attention of its young audience and provide the opportunity for important discussions on topics such as stereotypes, confidence, and overcoming obstacles. 

Discussion prompts are included here for teachers, guidance counselors, Scout leaders, parents and others to use with middle school and early high school students to accompany this video.

Watching the Video

Encourage! Leading Women Engineers Encourage the Next Generation
Leading women engineers encourage girls to do what they love, defy stereotypes, push through setbacks, and pursue engineering. (4:40 minutes)

Produced by Dr. Laura Ettinger, a history professor at Clarkson University, and directed by Zac Miller, founder of Uncommon Image Studios.

Watch the video now by pressing the "Play" button on the video.

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Prior to Viewing Discussion Questions

Q: What is a stereotype? Do stereotypes exist in today’s world? If so, what are some of them?
A: According to the American Association of University Women’s report, Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing (2015), “[a] stereotype is an association of specific characteristics with a group ... Stereotypes can be descriptive (what women and men are like) or prescriptive (what women and men should be like).” (37)

Q: Do stereotypes have an impact on our lives?
A: According to Solving the Equation, stereotypes “can lead to biased behavior or discrimination when we view members of a group based on their group status rather than as individuals.” In particular, “[g]ender stereotypes tend to place greater social value on men and evaluate men’s competence as greater than women’s.” (37)

Q: Have you ever tried something and failed? Did you learn anything from the experience, or did anything good come out of it?

Post Viewing Discussion Questions 

Q: Do you think that stereotypes limit our dreams? Do you think that there are stereotypes in engineering? How do you think they might affect you? If you come across any stereotypes that might affect you, how might you deal with them? Do you think we’re making progress in changing these stereotypes?

Q: How does diversity create a better engineer or product?

Q: Why would creativity be an integral part of engineering?

Q: Does trying but not being successful or failing have value? How? How can a mistake help you to learn?

Self-Reflection and Moving Forward 

Q: What experiences have you had that built your confidence and made you believe you could be successful in anything you tried?

Q: What are some of the ways you could be better supported as a girl or gender-nonconforming young person interested in science and/or math? Do you think that people have the same expectations for young people of different genders who are interested in science and/or math?

Q: Have you ever been teased because you like science or math? How did that make you feel? What can you say in response?

Q: Have you ever been called a nerd or a geek? What do you think is a good way to react to that? Who do you have in your life to turn to for support if this happens?

About the INSPIRE! Educational Video Collection

Inspire! is a collection of three educational videos with accompanying discussion prompts that will empower middle school and early high school girls with the tools to overcome obstacles facing girls and women in STEM fields, such as a lack of confidence and discouragement from others. One of the videos, Educate! What is an Engineer? Perspectives of Trailblazing Women Engineers, would be appropriate for use with young people regardless of their gender identification.

Each video features inspiring, real stories told by accomplished women engineers that contextualize and examine hurdles that girls and young women may face in the engineering field and offer strategies to overcome those hurdles. As we hear these stories, we see trailblazing women engineers serving as mentors and role models for the next generation of girls, who embrace the excitement of an engineering education within the context of a STEAM summer camp at Clarkson University, a nationally recognized technological university with locations in Potsdam, Schenectady and Beacon, New York.

The videos can be used together or individually.

Inspire! Educational Video Collection website

Inspire! Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Videos

Motivate! Motivational Messages from Accomplished Women Engineers

Accomplished women engineers inspire young women and give them advice about their future careers and lives. (3:39 minutes)

View Resources for Motivate! Video

Educate! What is an Engineer? Perspectives of Trailblazing Women Engineers

Trailblazing women engineers explain what engineering is and debunk myths about the field. (3:55 minutes)

View Resources for Educate! Video

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