FAIRFIELD — Deborah Mann and Berta Lloyd of Solano Community College envision a future where women are taking the math and science field by storm.
While educators are continually trying to push boys and girls science, technology, engineering and math — also referred to as STEM — there are few women in those professions.
Deborah Mann is the Director of Workforce and Economic Development, and Berta Lloyd is the Coordinator of Community Collaborative and Workforce Innovation Partnership Grants for the college. Both strive to get middle and high school students excited about college. Lloyd often organizes field trips to the college and throughout the county to expose students to different career fields.
This year, Lloyd and Mann decided to bring professionals to the college to volunteer their time at the Expanding Your Horizons STEM Conference. All of the professionals at the conference are women and all work in the fields of science, math, technology or engineering.
Expanding Your Horizons is a national organization that encourages young women to pursue jobs in science or math. The group often hosts STEM workshops at colleges nationwide for girls in middle or high school.
Lloyd jumped at the chance to host this conference. She worked tirelessly to organize 14 workshops, each taught by a local female professional, and invited more than 200 eighth-grade girls from Solano County to attend last week’s conference titled “Girl Power 2013!”
Lloyd and Mann said eighth-graders are the perfect age to attend the event because it’s about the time students start making career choices. By the time they’re in high school, it’s often too late.
“It’s exciting to see these girls budding into womanhood,” Lloyd said.
Women from around the Bay Area came to talk about their careers and engage the students in hands-on workshops. The 200 girls could choose to participate in workshops covering biotechnology, smartphone drafting/design, clean water and sanitation, sound engineering, aviation and forensic investigation. Students could also examine the anatomy of a pig’s heart or learn about beer brewing with an Anheuser-Busch representative.
The students genuinely seemed to enjoy the event, Mann said. She said not a single girl was using a cellphone during Wednesday’s workshops and all were engaged.
Although at the end of the day the girls still took out their cellphones and returned to regular school classes, Mann said many students told her it helped clarify their career path.
“Some never thought about any of these careers before,” Mann said. “Who knew that all these things existed?”
Mann and Lloyd hope to host the conference every year. To learn more about Expanding Your Horizons, visit www.expandingyourhorizons.org.
Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.