My secret weapon for getting young girls interested in engineering is makeup. In 2000, I started a company called Dirty Beauty Cosmetics which creates cosmetics from all-natural homegrown ingredients. In time I discovered that this was a platform to promote science education. I can say with confidence that when someone says cosmetics, they do not always relate it to engineering. Young women do not realize how closely makeup is tied to cosmetic chemistry, manufacturing engineering, and industrial engineering.
For five years, I have visited schools on Girl Day and each year I bring a variety of cosmetic-related activities. The makeup is a hit! This year my plan for Girl Day is to open our lab to girls in the metro-Atlanta area to make lip gloss. For those girls who can’t join us in-person, I put together lip gloss kits to order from the website. This way they can participate in a Girl Day activity wherever they are.
When working with young women in our lab and local communities, I see light bulbs turn on when they peek behind the scenes of making familiar things. We need more women role models to speak to these girls to get them into engineering. As female engineers, we know the value of having a woman on the team by giving a different perspective on project, which makes the outcome infinitely better.
There’s nothing like seeing a girl get excited over engineering! Sometimes you just need to add a little sparkle for them to see the appeal. Use these helpful messages when talking to girls. Become a mentor today to make a difference by introducing young women to the exciting world of engineering.
Samantha Dickey is the Founder of Dirty Beauty Cosmetics and a former engineer at Pepsi-Cola. Samantha earned a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from South Carolina State University.