Women wanted for technological careers

Posted on Monday, 5/6/2013 5:52 pm

In an elementary school art class, a young boy may pick up a paintbrush and begin to develop a lifelong passion for creating. At the same time, a teenage girl may love helping her classmates understand difficult concepts, and realize that a career in teaching is right for her.

Many individuals gain a sense of what they want to do with the rest of their lives early on, which is why schools must expose students to a variety of different subjects and experiences as early as kindergarten. It is especially important for educators to expose female pupils to technology, such as computers and student software, as more women are needed in technological fields.

Male-dominated fields
While many women have an interest in pursuing careers in the nation's technology sector, it simply is not enough. This is apparent based on 2001 data from the U.S. Department of Labor. In 2001, only 20 percent of technicians and engineering technologists were women. The only two technology-oriented professions in which women outnumbered men were statisticians and biological technicians.

Missed opportunities
In the current economy, many individuals of both genders are scrambling to find work. What female job seekers should know is that their chances of landing a job may be better if they had some technological expertise. That is because several technology-oriented careers are thriving in today's shaky economy.

For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that software developers are projected to see a 30 percent increase in job opportunities through 2020. Computer systems analysts are expected to see employment growth of 22 percent during the same time frame. In both cases, these percentages represent faster-than-average increases.

Finding ways to boost interest
Educators understand how important it is for gender not to be a barrier to students' career aspirations. They also realize how vital a balanced perspective in all fields is. For this reason, many teachers are taking steps toward promoting an interest in technological professions among female students.

For instance, almost two dozen female high school students recently participated in the Microsoft-sponsored DigiGirlz program in Pennsylvania, CBS Philly reported. In the case of Katherine Campayo, a Downingtown Stem Academy sophomore with aspirations of becoming an aeronautical engineer, the program provided a chance to speak with professional women who hold technical jobs.

Opportunities such as DigiGirlz are important for students like Campayo, who often receive confused looks when they share their career goals.

"You get a lot of raised eyebrows," Campayo told the news source. "They ask like, 'Why do you want to do that? That's not a very common field that a high school girl sophomore would like to take up.' And I take it in stride and it kind of makes me more unique."

Meanwhile, Girls Who Code is an organization that exists to increase interest among women in computing fields. Its founder, Reshma Saujani, the former deputy public advocate of New York City, told The Christian Science Monitor how important it is to work with women while they are still young.

"I realized that we needed to do something about it, and we needed to start young, focusing on teenage girls, before they've figured out what they want to do with their lives," Saujani told the news outlet.



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