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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise

TCWV in the News

Daily Mail editorial: Career fair shows young women opportunities

Female students at Capital High school this week got to see a vision of their future when role models spoke at the first ever women-focused career day.

The school hosted various female speakers who aimed to generate interest in the energy field, the Gazette-Mail’s Megan Kennedy reported Thursday.

Speakers included U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito; Melissa Hatfield-Atkinson, supervisor at Chesapeake Energy; Amanda Marks-Cunningham, director of public affairs at Waste Management; and others.

The women’s roles were meant to stir inspiration in students, said Ann Flynt, a guidance counselor at Capital High.

“A lot of our students aren’t exposed to people of the level of caliber as Shelley Moore Capito, or people who have professional jobs,” Flynt told Kennedy.

“Many of our kids are holding down jobs themselves and going to school. And their parents might work at fast food (chains), or they maybe have never considered some of the things (Capito) suggested today. So I just think it’s expanding their imagination and I think that’s a great way to start thinking about you career — thinking about your possibilities.”

Such opportunities give young women insight into strong careers that can pay well. Perhaps today’s students will be the ones that even out the often-talked about pay gap between men and women.

“STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs pay on average 26 percent more than other jobs, they tend to be more recession proof, and they are on the rise,” wrote Anne Barth in an October 2014 commentary for the Gazette-Mail. “In the next four years, STEM jobs are expected to grow at twice the rate of other jobs. And the top 10 paying majors for the graduating class of 2013 were all STEM fields.

“Recruiting more women in STEM will not only help lessen the pay gap and improve the financial status of women, it will also address a critical and growing skills gap in American industry and manufacturing. With the pending retirement of the baby boomers and upticks in manufacturing, forecasters are warning of workforce shortages.”

Obviously, the career day had some impact. One student, Daishawna Johnson, who plans a career in military intelligence, knows that her intended field is dominated by men.

“Honestly, that makes me want to work harder,” she said.

West Virginia needs more people in its work force — men and women, particularly in the technical fields. Highlighting the opportunities for women while they are still in school could inspire careers not considered before, and help alleviate a future worker shortage in the state.

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