OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill., December 09, 2009
While millions of adult workers in America contemplate changing careers or how to make themselves more valuable in the eyes of employers, DeVry University is helping high school women in cities across the country to learn about in-demand careers of the 21st century.
DeVry University’s nationwide HerWorld program aims to empower more high school girls to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. Now in its 12th year, the program provides an opportunity for students to participate in educational and confidence-building workshops, listen to female leaders discuss their careers and how they managed to get where they are today, and gain inspiration toward their future endeavors.
“As Americans in the workforce become increasingly proactive about career decisions, younger generations are following suit,” said Dave Pauldine, president of DeVry University. “Programs such as HerWorld give young women the additional support they need to pursue their educational and career goals.”
More than 500 local high school girls are expected to attend the HerWorld event in New York City on Dec. 11, where they will hear from speakers such as Debra Kral, NASA’s Vehicle Launch Manager and also work together to build miniature robots. At the end, the students will walk away with new inspiration and the knowledge that no career dream is out of reach.
The national importance and relevance of this topic is evident in the creation of programs meant to increase interest for STEM subjects among students. President Obama’s recent announcement of the Educate to Innovate program, which aims to encourage students to explore the STEM fields outside of school, is just one example of the public, governmental, and corporate support for STEM initiatives.
DeVry University often enlists the school’s corporate partners to participate in the HerWorld events. Angela Jones, the lead of Accenture’s health and public services operating unit, supports the empowering message that HerWorld delivers.
“It’s important that girls engage in activities that expand their ability to be naturally curious and apply logic in a variety of ways,” says Jones. “Our world is changing so quickly – tomorrow the tools will be different, and the way we interact and collaborate will continue to change. It will be our ability to adjust and problem-solve within those environments that will help us to remain competitive.”
“It’s important for parents, school administrators and mentors to instill confidence in girls at a young age, since unfortunately the belief that men are better suited for certain careers still exists, even if it’s not the mainstream sentiment,” continues Kral. “While the number of women in my field is growing, we are still under-represented when compared to our male colleagues and I’d like to see those figures change with this next generation of women." As evidence of Kral’s observation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that although women currently make up more than half of the American workforce, they hold only 28 percent of the technology positions.
Since the program’s inception in 1997, HerWorld has made an impression on the minds and spirits of tens of thousands of high school-aged women, including Heidy Alonzo, a student at the DeVry College of New York, who attributes her decision to enroll in the networking program to HerWorld. “As an unsure high school student, HerWorld gave me the confidence to pursue a path that I know will allow me to find success upon graduation,” Alonzo said.