Conference strives to boost women in the workforce

Women and Work Conference


Young women from high schools around Southeast Idaho are speaking-up for women who are interested in pursuing professional careers today at the 13th annual Idaho State University Center for New Directions Women and Work Conference.

Hundreds of high school girls gathered at the ISU Student Union Building to learn more about what it takes for young women to pursue their dreams in obtaining a place in the workforce.

"We hold this conference in order to educate them, to give them the idea that they can select occupations for themselves that can be in: science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the trades," ISU College of Technology's Director of the Center for New Directions Christine Brower said.

Brower believes this conference will help lead women to find careers in fields they are passionate about since better job satisfaction will lead to more satisfaction across the board as well.

'Therefore they benefit, their clients and customers benefit, and also society benefits," Brower said.

This is the final year Highland High School senior Cameo Willett will be able to attend this conference before she graduates and thinks this has helped both her and her classmates explore their career options.

"Being a firefighter or a radio-chemist, I can definitely see these people with their level of intelligence accomplishing their goals and just being seen as an equal," Willett said.

With an affinity for National Geographic, one of Willett's future career goals is to become a wildlife photographer.

According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most recent data shows women in the workforce grew by more than 60 percent in the past four decades, with the 72 million working American women, a mere six million are unemployed.

The BLS report also indicates the percentage of women in the workforce who have college degrees rose from 30.1% in 2000 up 6.3% a decade later.

Today's guest speaker, Dr. Cathy Riddle, a scientist with the INL said she has also been noticing the upward trend in women who have been pursuing professional careers.

"I think it's more accepted," Riddle said. "I think that because of things like the Women in Work Conference is instilling in girls that, 'yeah, I can do that, too. Look, she did it. I can do it, too.'"

"They have the world open to them," Brower said.

Both Riddle and Brower agree they see a positive change happening and will continue to only improve in the future so young women such as Willett can have a better chance at success.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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