Although OSSE equipped young teenage girls with the necessary information to lead successful non-traditional careers, it also warned that the pathway to success might only be possible through persecution, hard work, and perseverance.
In celebration of National Women’s History Month, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), hosted its 4th Annual Young Women’s Conference Saturday at The American University, where hundreds of teenagers gathered to listen to women mentors explain the various career choices that are available to them in non-traditional career fields. However, statistics show although women continue to make their mark on history, they still have a long ways to go in breaking through barriers, such as the glass ceiling.
“The emerging innovation economy of the 21st century presents young women today with a wide range of challenges and opportunities that have broken the bounds imposed by the traditions of earlier centuries,” explained Julia A. Martas, Civil Rights and Gender Equity Coordinator for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
Martas, explained that “The Great Depression of 2008-2009 has increased the challenges for all of us, but the opportunities remain high skills, high-wage, high-growth careers are opening up for women in more and more arenas that have always been seen as non-traditional for women –especially in the STEM sectors (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math),” which she says have become a focal point of education policy, economic and work development.
Dorthy Egbufor, who is a representative for the Washington Teachers’ Union, explained that the U.S. Department of Labor defines non-traditional occupations for women, as occupations in which women make up less than 25 percent of those employed in any given career field.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, in 2008, “The largest percentage of employed women, (39 percent) worked in management, professional, and related occupations; 33 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 6 percent in production, transportation, and material moving occupations; and 1 percent in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations.”
In addition, the 2008 study revealed that “women who are employed in non-traditional jobs earn higher wages than women employed in traditionally female occupations.” However, other studies showed that women often times encounter a glass ceiling in comparison to their male counterparts in that they often times lag behind them in terms of pay, promotions, and obtaining leadership positions. The glass ceiling being a term coined in the early 1980s, which describes the invisible barrier in which women encounter, while working their way up the corporate ladder.
For instance, the Social Science Research Network, recently revealed that “women who climb the occupational ladder, the manner in which many federal courts interpret the EPA imposes a wage glass ceiling, shutting out women in non-standardized jobs from its protection. This barrier is particularly troubling in light of data that shows that the gender wage gap increases for women as they achieve higher levels of professional status.” Nevertheless, as the March 06, 2010, Young Women’s Conference on Non-Traditional Careers-STEM Towards the Future drew near a close, a diversed group of teenagers, eager to talk about the conference, explained how the event was beneficial to them careerwise.
“I plan to pursue a career in Information Technology,” says Evelyn Thomas, a ninth grade student who attends high school in the District. “I like to work with computers because they fascinate me.”
Thomas says she has gained a wealth of knowledge by attending the conference and says the information she has obtained has only aspired her that much more to pursue a career in computers, which she says she plans to do, once she graduates high school.
“I want to major in Chemistry,” says Brea Fleming, a junior at Gwynn Park High School. “This event has opened my mind to different career offers. It has helped me prepare for my future by offering tips for preparation to get a job and to get into college.”
Fleming says her parents have been supportive of her career goals and says it is important that parents support their children in their endeavors, especially in programs, such as this one.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D., DC State Superintendent of Education says, “As our region and our nation advances its technological and engineering prowess, it is important for teens to be fully prepared for the growing non-traditional careers within the DC metro region and global labor market.”
To visit OSSE Web site and to inquire about programs and services offered for women pursuing non-traditonal careers, please click on link below:
To view a video and to listen to what President Obama and Michele had to say about the glass ceiling, as ABC News reported, please click on link below: