Schools Urge City's Girls to Count on Mathematics

By Kurutz, Daveen Rae | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 23, 2010 | Go to article overview

Schools Urge City's Girls to Count on Mathematics


Kurutz, Daveen Rae, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Aileen Lerch is tired of being in the minority. A junior at Allderdice High School, Lerch is surrounded by boys in her pre- engineering classes and would love to see some of her math and science-loving female friends enroll.

"There are a lot of girls out there who like math and science -- they just don't realize engineering would be a good fit for them," said Lerch, 16, of Shadyside.

Pittsburgh Public Schools officials plan to use an $800,000 federal grant to get more teenage girls interested in careers in mathematics, such as engineering. The district is kicking off its Gaining Equity through Mathematics program Thursday at the Carnegie Science Center, encouraging teen girls to enroll in math-intensive programs offered throughout the district.

This year, only one female student enrolled in the district's heating, ventilating and air conditioning program and three enrolled in automotive technology. An additional 160 are taking pre- engineering courses at Allderdice -- about 350 students are enrolled in the program.

"We may be turning the girls off to math and science and don't even realize it," said Shirley Bevan, a project manager with the district who worked on the new program. "We need to try to make the classroom more female friendly."

According to a Bayer Corp. study released Monday, 40 percent of female and minority chemists and chemical engineers were discouraged from pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or math - - most often while in school. …

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