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2016 July 27 - 05:06 pm

Girls Get Glimpse of Advanced Manufacturing Trades

Community College of Denver Conducts Summer Camps for High School Students

With all the buzz surrounding provisions of the Fair Pay Act, there is still a need to address the lack of females hired in jobs traditionally held by men. In short, equal pay for equal work is critical, but getting women into jobs usually dominated by males is just as critical.

Jobs such as machining, engineering, manufacturing, and welding offer opportunities to increase the income of households, particularly those headed by women, and pay 20 to 30 percent more than jobs generally dominated by females (e.g., clerical, administrative, etc.). They also often have better benefits, making them engines of self-sufficiency for women. Yet according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, in 2009 women accounted for only 23 percent of drafters, 15 percent of industry production managers, 7 percent of machinists, and 4 percent of welders.

It makes sense that women will want and need to gain the skills necessary to make their entryway into these fields as obstacle free and empowering as possible.

To invest in this interest, Community College of Denver (CCD) has created the “Project DIY” (Do It Yourself) camp for Denver’s high school females. It’s a summer camp funded by the Women’s Foundation of Colorado that is focused on engaging 9th, 10th and 11th grade girls in hands-on advanced manufacturing experiences.

DPS students who are already participating in advanced manufacturing training/courses at the Career Education Center Early College and the Martin Luther King Jr. Early College have already applied.

Starting in June, Project DIY held the first of two separate oneweek camps with each designated school, providing up to 30 students with hands-on training and experience in advanced manufacturing fields.

The overarching goal of the program is to capture the interest of these young girls as early as possible as a means of opening their eyes to the potential offered by manufacturing and other STEM industries while building their confidence and fostering a mindset that stresses gender equity.

“With the new Advanced Manufacturing Center and the college’s other female-friendly programs, CCD’s efforts to steer underrepresented females into these careers is very strategic,” said Rachel Pavelko, career services coordinator at CCD. “There is a demonstrated need for STEM-focused programs to encourage female student enrollment and retention in the STEM pipeline nationwide, but particularly in Colorado.”

Colorado forecasts a growth of 28 percent in STEM-related jobs in the state, so promoting completion of post-secondary certificates and degrees for women and girls in STEMfocused fields, including advanced manufacturing, is critical to Colorado’s economic prosperity.

The absence of women in advanced manufacturing is problematic because it excludes women’s perspectives in the design process and sends signals to young women that these careers are not open to them, diverting their talents from these fields and perpetuating a “boys only” perspective.

Most importantly, advanced manufacturing provides strong career pathways and earning potential. Creating a pipeline for girls and women in advanced manufacturing fields will help them fill much needed positions, create a more diverse workforce and leverage untapped talent, expertise and perspective.

“Getting girls into advanced manufacturing careers and into CCD’s programs is a natural step, and a forward-thinking solution that encourages young women to consider and hopefully pursue these opportunities,” said Pavelko.

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