Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Tech fair to emphasize women's roles

SEWELL A career fair next week in Sewell will seek to reconfigure the technology landscape by emphasizing an underrepresented element: women.

Gloucester County College will host its annual Women in Technology career fair on Tuesday.

Local female students, in grades seven through nine, will be further introduced to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics during the five-hour event. About 125 students are expected to attend.

The hands-on day, now in its 13th year, acquaints young girls with practical and fun facets of the fields, such as the chemistry of candy.

"It's not too tech-heavy or too science-heavy where they're going to lose interest early on," said Brenden Rickards, dean of the college's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) division.

Women fill less than half of 25 percent of STEM jobs, but make up half the country's workforce, according to a 2011 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Rickards said there are encouraging signs. For starters, he said, at least half of the doctoral students studying molecular biology alongside him at Princeton University were women.

"Women are definitely becoming very crucial," said Rickards, who graduated from Princeton in 2006.

Those with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than their counterparts in other fields, the Commerce Department report said.

"They can do anything they want," Rickards said. "That's what they need to see."

- Angelo Fichera

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