Improving the Right-Hand Ergonomics of the Modern GI Endoscope; Minimizing the STEM Gender Gap: Middle School Girls in STEM

Pasco-Anderson, Julia, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Barker, Shannon, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia

Despite comprising 48 percent of the workforce, women hold less than 25 percent of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs in the United States. The percentage of technology-related degrees that have gone to women and the percentage of women in technological professions have decreased since 1985, in stark contrast to the increased number and importance of technology-related studies in society. How can jobs in STEM be made more accessible to women?
The common endoscope (a tool operated by gastroenterologists for colonoscopies) has poor ergonomics, causing approximately 17 percent of gastroenterologists to face painful right-hand injuries. These injuries lead to 38 percent of GIs reporting impaired performance when conducting colonoscopy procedures, 13 percent taking time off from work, and many even needing surgery. This problem disproportionately affects women due to their smaller average hand size and lower average hand strength. Through research, conversation with experts, prototyping, and testing, my teammates and I have designed an endoscope accessory that solves this problem.
Since 2010, how have advocates of gender equity encouraged girls in US middle schools to pursue STEM fields? Studies show that girls’ involvement in STEM in middle school is a strong indicator of interest in STEM later in life, where we see a significant lack of women. Many organizations of supporters and educators of women in STEM, such as STEM camps for girls and middle school education boards, work to solve this problem by making it easier for middle school girls to identify with STEM. This strategy often takes the form of increasing girls’ comfort in the STEM arena and allowing them to see the STEM path as a feasible option. As these girls grow up and join the work force, the efficacy of these strategies will become evident.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Gastroenterology, Colonoscopy, Ergonomics, Medical Device, Endoscopy, Right Hand, Girls in STEM, Gender Equity, Middle School Girls, Musculoskeletal Injury
Sponsoring Agency:

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Shannon Barker
STS Advisor: Peter Norton
Technical Team Members: Julia Pasco-Anderson, David Mai, Brendan Berkel

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: