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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise

TCWV in the News

Daily Mail editorial: More STEM opportunities for women

Decades ago, it was uncommon to find many women working in what are now called STEM careers — those based in science, technology, engineering or math.

While a renewed focus on STEM education has led to many more girls and women seeking such careers, females are still underrepresented in technical fields.

“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 47 percent of the total U.S. workforce, but are much less represented in particular science and engineering occupations,” reported U.S. News and World Report.

“They comprise 39 percent of chemists and material scientists, 28 percent of environmental scientists and geoscientists, 16 percent of chemical engineers and just 12 percent of civil engineers.”
Work in Kanawha County — and throughout West Virginia — seeks to introduce more girls and women to STEM careers. As the Gazette-Mail’s Ryan Quinn reported, a program that teaches girls computer coding is growing and its efforts are drawing praise from the White House.

Project Code Nodes will soon offer four locations for its free workshops: downtown Charleston, Institute and Rand, in addition to a current class in Kanwaha City. The classes are hosted by the Partnership of African American Churches, but middle and high school students of all races are invited to attend.

West Virginia is one of a dozen states that has taken “concrete policy actions” to support computer education since President Obama highlighted the need during his 2016 State of the Union, Quinn wrote. In April, the state Board of Education approved a policy that mandates all public high schools offer computer science classes.

Expanding access to STEM isn’t limited to the classroom, however. Other organizations are working to expose professional women to STEM fields.

The Charleston Area Alliance’s Elevations Professional Women’s Network will host Anita Riddle of ExxonMobile for a luncheon Oct. 6 at Embassy Suites. According to Elevations’ Facebook page, Riddle’s duties include monitoring and facilitating oil refining process engineering.

Also on Oct. 6, TechConnect will host the 2016 Women & Technology Conference at Canaan Valley Resort where more than 20 presenters will share strategies on how women in STEM fields can revitalize West Virginia’s economy.

Men traditionally dominate jobs like engineering, biosciences and software development, but that’s changing.

Thanks to expanded access to these careers and others, today’s women are poised to take on higher-paying jobs, stimulate the economy and pave the way for future generations of girls to follow their passions into STEM careers.

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