One of the reasons that young woman do not go on to pursue careers in the trades or in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is simply that they do not see them as an option. Young girls who have no experience with these careers or have no female role models who work in these jobs may not realize that it is an option for them. Here in Vermont, Kelly Walsh through Vermont Works for Women is addressing these issues and working with girls and women to think about their lives in broader terms.
(Rosie’s Girls photo from http://vtworksforwomen.org/girls/)
According to the Girl Scouts of America research study, Generation STEM: What Girls Say About Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, “74% of teen girls are interested in the field of STEM, and STEM subjects.” (Modi, Schoenberg, & Salmond, 2012) In 2009 the US Department of Commerce released this statistic: “Although woman fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less then 25 percent of STEM jobs. This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college-educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce.” (U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, 2011). These statistics suggest that there are significant barriers preventing young women from pursuing their academic interests. While many young women seem to have interest in STEM careers as well as in the trades, the number of them that go on to make a career in these fields is small.
While secondary schools, colleges, and employers have taken steps over the past two decades to encourage women and girls to consider nontraditional fields, women accounted for over 95% of kindergarten teachers, librarians, dental assistants, and registered nurses in 2009. They composed less than 4% of all carpenters, and 1% of electricians or automotive technicians. At the same time, women have been losing ground in fields where they had made previous inroads: women’s participation in civil engineering, for example, declined from 13 % in 2005 to just over 7% in 2009. In 2008, women held only 25% of all professional IT-related jobs, an 11% drop from a high of 36% in 1991.” (Vermont Works for Women, 2013)
One of the reasons that young woman do not go on to pursue careers in the trades or STEM is simply that they do not see them as an option. Young girls who have no experience with these careers or have no female role models who work in these jobs may not realize that it is an option for them. Here in Vermont, Vermont Works for Women is addressing these issues and working with girls and women to think about their lives in broader terms.
Kelly Walsh is Director of Girls Programs for Vermont Works for Women (VWW), an organization with locations in Winooski and Barre. “VWW helps women and girls recognize their potential and explore, pursue, and excel in work that leads to economic independence.”(Vermont Works for Women, n.d.) Kelly develops and implements programs for young girls that introduce them to technical activities and the skilled trades.
One of the programs Kelly organizes is Rosie’s Girls. Rosie’s Girls is a day camp that provides opportunities for young girls to explore carpentry, welding, bicycle repair, music, art, and self defense. The camp teaches teamwork, and boosts self esteem. This Episode of “Stuck in Vermont” highlights the Rosie’s Girls Camp.
(Stuck in Vermont, 2007, July 17)
Every year, Kelly is responsible for the “Women Can Do” conference. This conference is a full day conference for young Vermont women in grades 9-12 from over 60 schools. It features hands-on workshops focused on careers in the skilled trades and STEM fields. The participating girls also have the opportunity to meet women employed in these careers. Kelly organizes programs that have a direct impact on young women. She creates dynamic programming that influences the way young girls see the world and their place in it.
In addition to this work Kelly also collaborates with policy makers and educators to promote gender equity. She participated in the preparation of the Enough Said report released by Vermont Works for Woman. This report has already influenced over 25 business, government and community leaders from across the state to makes changes to policy and programming. Not only does Kelly Walsh advocate for the children of Vermont through her job, she also embodies this role in her every day life. Kelly is a role model and an educator. She challenges the ideas people have about young women and inspires change.
Modi, K, PH.D, Schoenberg, J, Ed.M, & Salmond, K, M.P.P. (2012). Generation STEM: What girls say about science, technology, engineering, and math. New York, N.Y.: Girl Scouts of the USA.
Stuck in Vermont. (2007, July 17). Rosie’s girls [SIV 36] [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtuW4bFoqhE
U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration. (2011). Women in STEM: A gender gap to innovation. Retrieved from http://www.esa.doc.gov/Reports/women-stem- gender gap-innovation
Vermont Works For Women. (2013). ENOUGH SAID – young women talk about school, work and becoming adults: Why we should listen and what we can do. Retrieved from http://vtworksforwomen.org/enoughsaid/
Vermont Works for Women. (n.d.). Mission statement. Retrieved from http://vtworksforwomen.org/mission/
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APA cite in text as: (Meyers, 2014)
APA cite in full References as: Meyers, K. (2014). Kelly Walsh and the girls programs of Vermont Works for Women. Vermont Psychology. Retrieved from http://wp.me/p4elXk-ip
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Kim Myers: I live in Marshfield, Vermont, with my husband, daughter, and dog in a beautiful yurt on a farm. I attend CCV in Montpelier. I am 33 years old and glad to be back in school. After many years of building hiking trails, teaching in small schools, and working on farms I am happy to be using my brain in new and different ways. I hope to become a Developmental Psychologist someday.
View Kim’s other article about Vermont Children of Incarcerated Parents.