Celebrate Women’s History Month with An Inspiring Documentary About Women in Engineering

Left to right: Debra Dibble Boone, Kate Harper, Susan Suhr, Dr. Laura Ettinger, Suzanne Hardie, Joanie Banks-Hunt, and Sheree Gibson. Photo provided.

March is Women’s History Month–a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture, and society. Together, Clarkson history professor Laura Ettinger and filmmaker Zac Miller, communication and media instructor at Clarkson, and founder of the boutique production company, Uncommon Image Studios, collaborated to capture the contributions of six groundbreaking American women in engineering in their award-winning short documentary, Trailblazers: The Untold Stories of Six Women Engineers.

According to Clarkson University, “This powerful documentary tells the stories of six trailblazing women engineers as they share their experiences overcoming obstacles and paving the way for the next generation. Their stories help us to understand how individual women in engineering navigated the challenges they encountered and how institutions might work to address those challenges. Trailblazers is aimed at adults and older high school students of all interests and backgrounds. The documentary can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=miDLLxHRNow. This documentary can help start great discussions about women in STEM, women in the workplace and more. It can be used in classrooms in high schools and colleges across the country or even used to start important conversations in book clubs and friend groups.”

Ettinger’s game-changing work for the National Science Foundation also resulted in three short educational videos that go along with the documentary, designed to empower middle school and early high school girls to become interested in STEM fields. Ettinger encourages K-12 teachers, guidance counselors, Scout leaders, club advisors and parents to consider using these educational videos to encourage young girls to become involved in STEM. The video series is called Inspire! and it has an accompanying discussion guide that makes it easy to begin a dialogue with middle school and early high school students. The educational videos are at www.clarkson.edu/inspire.

The trailblazing women featured in the videos are:

• Joanie Banks-Hunt

• Debra Dibble Boone

• Sheree Gibson

• Suzanne Hardie

• Kate Harper

• Susan Suhr

Each educational video features the real stories told by these accomplished women engineers. The videos, and the accompanying discussion guide, acknowledge structural challenges while encouraging middle school and early high school girls (at a time when their interest and confidence in the STEM fields often decreases) to develop resilience and understand potential obstacles they may face during their education and careers. The result is uplifting, relatable, authentic educational content that offers meaningful strategies to eliminate barriers for girls and women to enter and persist in engineering and related fields. The three educational videos are:

• 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.

• Motivate! Motivational Messages from Accomplished Women Engineers: Accomplished women engineers inspire young women and give them advice about their future careers and lives.

• Educate! What is an Engineer? Perspectives of Trailblazing Women Engineers: Trailblazing women engineers explain what engineering is and debunk myths about the field.

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