For a young Jennifer Bradley, watching the popular TV show MacGyver wasn’t quite enough.
“I needed to understand MacGyver,” she said. “I couldn’t just sit there and enjoy the show. It was more than that. I was obsessed with MacGyver. I wanted to be MacGyver.”
The fictional troubleshooter spoke to Bradley’s innate desire to solve problems, to figure out how things work.
“That’s the kind of stuff that gets me going,” said Bradley, now a manufacturing engineering technology major at PSU. “I love thinking about how things work, how things were designed to work. I want to get my hands on things and tackle problems head-on.”
Bradley, a member of the Society of Women Engineers student group at Pitt State, said she believes there are many more women in the world who share those interests but are reluctant to turn them into a career. National statistics agree, as a recent report by the American Society for Engineering Education shows that women account for just 18 percent of engineering degrees nationwide.
A national push to get more women in engineering has been taking place for several years, said Rebeca Book, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology.
“A lot of females don’t consider engineering as a career,” Book said. “They are either not aware of it, or they don’t feel comfortable pursuing the degree. Many still feel that it’s a man’s world. We need to change that. We need women to know that they are just as equipped to be engineers as their male counterparts.”
Book said she is confident that the number of women in the engineering field will increase with more awareness and encouragement.
“I definitely think we’ll see more and more women go into engineering,” she said. “
Earlier this year, Book, Bradley and other representatives from Pittsburg State attended the fourth annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGED) in Kansas City.
Bradley spoke at the conference as a member of the college panel, and she said her message was simple.
“There were so many young girls there, and we wanted to leave them with the belief that they can do this,” she said. “Engineering is a complicated, difficult field, and a lot of people have certain fears about it. But whether you are a male or a female, you can do it if you put your mind and heart into it.”