Updated 03/30/2012 03:06 PM
Study: Fewer women taking STEM classes at community colleges
Upstate New York is having a boom in science, technology, engineering and math jobs. But according to a study, fewer women are training for them at community colleges. Our C.J. Spang has details.
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MALTA, N.Y. -- Jeannine Acevedo has always had an interest in science and math. Now she's back in school, making a second career of it.
"Once I have this [degree], I can either work as (a technician) or it will open doors in a ton of different directions," she said. "Whether it's nanoscience in the medical field or nanoscience in making electronics, there's so much going on with it. Now that I have a good base, I can move on to anywhere."
Acevedo is studying semiconductor manufacturing technology at Hudson Valley Community College's TEC-SMART facility. The college offers a variety of science, technology, engineering and math programs, but few women are participating. Community college administrators say it's a national trend that needs to change.
"Take the hard things, because other people in other countries are doing it," said TEC-SMART Associate Dean Penny Hill. "We have to be globally competitive and that's the only way we're going to do it, is if we have all our young population looking at this as a viable option."
A study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research found that only 27.5 percent of associate's degrees and occupational certificates in STEM fields went to women in 2007. That was a more than 10 percent decrease from 10 years earlier.
"We need more women doing that because that's where they have ultimately a lot more training opportunities and a lot more work opportunities if they go into those fields," Hill said.
Acevedo says she wants to be involved in helping get young girls interested in STEM careers, which she says are good to have in this economy.
"My last job, I got laid off. Now I know I can go to a few different places and have job offers that I can choose from," she said. "There's not many people at all that can say that, male or female."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in many STEM fields is expected to exceed double digit growth this decade.