Kerryn Fulton wonders why there aren't more women in her field of engineering.
The pay is above average, it's rewarding, and it's one of the fastest growing careers around.
But yet, as of 2011, only 18 percent of engineers are women, Fulton told 16 Central York High School girls on Thursday.
"I cannot explain to you why. But the disparity remains," she said.
That's one reason Fulton decided to meet with the students as part of national "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day."
As chief operating officer at York-based C.S. Davidson civil engineering firm, she's worked on Martin Library and the Gettysburg Museum & Visitor Center, among others.
Fulton implored the girls to consider a career that has high impact.
"Everything around you ... has been influenced by engineering," she said. "This is a growing field, even in this economy."
Problem-solving degree: Engineering has the eye of seniors Sarah Dudney and Jenna Swenor and junior Leah Davis, even as they have already noticed at the high school level that it's a male-dominated career path.
Leah said she was the only girl in her computer-aided drafting class, while Jenna said she had the same situation in her engineering class.
Sarah said she's drawn to engineering because it's like "getting a degree in problem solving," something that would be useful in a wide array of situations.
Plus, her passion for math and science wouldn't work in the medical field.
"I can't handle the blood," she said with a laugh.
Some of the girls on hand for Fulton's afternoon discussion also attended an event with Fulton earlier in the day as part of the ACE Mentor program, a national program to work with students interested in architecture, construction and engineering. Fulton's firm has been working as mentors with students interested in engineering.
Fulton said before the afternoon session she wants to do what she can to encourage young girls to consider the career, since she knows some might gloss over it. Stereotypes, intimidation about the academic rigor or other factors might be preventing more women from becoming engineers, she said.
But considering in 1947 only 0.3 percent of engineers were women, there has been growth.
"I want to tell them, you can do it. You are super-smart," Fulton said.
-- Reach Andrew Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org