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School of Engineering

Panetta honored for literary contribution

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Dean of Graduate Education Karen Panetta has been recognized by the IEEE-USA Board of Directors for the impact of her co-authored book, Count Girls In.
Karen Panetta outside the engineering building

School of Engineering Dean of Graduate Education and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Karen Panetta was selected as the 2020 recipient of the IEEE-USA Award for Distinguished Literary Contributions Furthering Public Understanding and the Advancement of the Engineering Profession for co-authoring the book, Count Girls In.

Count Girls In: Empowering Girls to Combine Any Interests with STEM to Open Up a World of Opportunity, co-authored by Katianne Williams, encourages guardians and teachers to reconceptualize STEM as a field that welcomes all girls and young women. Throughout the book, Panetta and Williams examine classroom biases that often make STEM a male-dominated field, and instead advocate for a curriculum that appeals to all genders.

Panetta and Williams present research, advice, and resources to help mentors engage their students at each stage of schooling, from elementary school through college. The authors ask: what does it mean for a young woman to fit in at school, why does fitting in often mean not showing an interest in STEM, and what can we do to change this? They suggest that mentors acknowledge a menteeā€™s personal interests and introduce her to STEM concepts that are more relevant to those interests. In this way, STEM can truly become a field that celebrates individuality, creativity, and inclusion.

Panetta is a leading advocate for women in STEM in higher education. From 2007 to 2009, she was the worldwide director for IEEE Women in Engineering, the largest international professional organization dedicated to promoting women engineers and scientists, and she served as editor-in-chief of IEEE Women in Engineering Magazine. She is faculty adviser to the Tufts student chapters of both the IEEE and the Society of Women Engineers, and is founder of the nationally acclaimed Nerd Girls program, which promotes engineering disciplines to young students.

She is an IEEE Fellow and received the 2013 IEEE Award for Distinguished Ethical Practices for exemplary contributions and leadership in developing ethics and social responsibility in students. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded Panetta the Presidential Award for Science and Engineering Education and Mentoring.

Panetta currently serves as the President of IEEE Eta Kappa Nu, the honor society of IEEE. The society is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing individual excellence in education, professional practice, and IEEE-designated fields of interest.