From left: Desiree Cerretani (Mechanical Engineer, UTC Aerospace Systems), Tiffany Bluemle (Director, Change The Story), Rachel Jolly (Director of Women’s Programs, Vermont Works for Women), Joyce Judy (President, CCV), Katrina Hagan (Civil & Environmental Engineering student, Vermont Tech) and Mary O’Leary (Professor, Vermont Tech). VTech photos
Vermont Business Magazine Holding a press conference at its Williston campus Wednesday, Vermont Tech announced its initiative to tackle workforce development, economic development and gender equity by significantly increasing participation rates among women in several historically male-dominated fields. The college has set new annual female enrollment growth targets in civil and environmental engineering technology, computer information technology, computer software engineering, construction management, and mechanical engineering technology. The enrollment targets project annual growth of nearly 40%, each year for the next three years starting in the fall of 2016. By the end of the project term, Vermont Tech should realize an increase of female participation in these programs from 10% to 24%. The momentum of such growth and lessons learned from the activities of the project’s years should yield even greater participation rates beyond 2018.
As an extension of its partnership on programs like the annual Women Can Do! conference and Rosie’s Girls residential camps, Vermont Tech is collaborating with Vermont Works for Women and Change The Story for to support the college in reaching their enrollment goals. Attendees heard from the partners in the collaboration about their roles to advance the economic security and independence of women in Vermont, empowering the economy of the state and furthering workforce development for Vermont businesses.
VTC President Dan Smith greets attendees at the press conference. Photos courtesy of VTC.
“In many of the Vermont careers and industries supported by the Vermont Tech, where wages are high and jobs are available, there is a workforce shortage. At the same time that women are underrepresented in those jobs and the programs that lead to them,” said Dan Smith, President of Vermont Tech. “It will be a steep climb to address our workforce challenge if we are leaving half the talent on the table.”
Rachel Jolly of Vermont Works for Women underscored the need for this initiative when she spoke to many of the statistics found in the recent report from Change The Story, 2016 Status Report: Women, Work and Wages in Vermont, including:
- Women are significantly more likely than men to live in poverty or economic insecurity.
- 43% of VT women who work full-time do not make enough to cover basic living expenses as defined by VT’s Joint Fiscal Office.
- Women who work full-time are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs – in every age group, at every level of education.
Desiree Cerretani, a Vermont Tech graduate and Mechanical Engineer with UTC Aerospace Systems, spoke passionately of why she believes women are ideal for any technical fields. “We see things in different ways and come up with different solutions to problems,” she observed. Desiree also recognized her role in creating more opportunities for women in her field when she noted, “I do not take my role as a female engineer lightly. I know I represent women all over the world and what young women’s futures could look like.”
In the coming year, the project team will address recruitment, retention and career placement to improve participation rates among women. Mentorship will overlay each of these activities. The typical applied-learning projects of the college curriculum will focus on issues like climate change, water quality, or software privacy to demonstrate how science and engineering are at the heart of solving the problems society faces. The college will work closely with Vermont Works for Women to build bridges between their programs and college enrollment, as well as share outreach efforts to area high schools and technical centers. The group will continue to collaborate on successful programs like the Women Can Do! conference and the Rosie’s Girls residential camps and follow-on mentorships.
President Dan Smith – Dan was named president of Vermont Tech in April 2014. A native of Middlesex, Vermont, Dan is a lawyer by training and has worked in higher education and economic development in Vermont for over the last decade.
Tiffany Bluemle – Tiff led Vermont Works for Women for 20 years as their Executive Director. She left that post in 2015 to lead Change The Story VT, a multi-year, systemic approach to improving women’s economic opportunity.
Rachel Jolly – Rachel began her career with Vermont Works for Women in 2007 and now oversees the breadth of women’s programming. She has worked for a variety of environmental education nonprofits in Maine, Vermont and internationally.
Mary O’Leary – Mary worked in the engineering and environmental industries for over 20 years prior to joining Vermont Tech as a professor. She continues to play an active role in the industry, including working with her former company, participating in industry trainings and providing technical and permitting services on college projects.
Desiree Cerretani – Desiree is a mechanical engineer with the UTC Aerospace Systems Sensors & Integrated Systems division. A graduate of Vermont Tech in 2011 in Electromechanical Engineering, Desiree went on to receive a master’s in Engineering/Industrial Management from Clarkson University. Desiree is also a mentor in the Rosie’s Girls program.
About Vermont Tech – Vermont Tech is a leading public college with a mission of applied education. One of the five Vermont State Colleges, Vermont Tech serves students from throughout Vermont, New England, and beyond at its two residential campuses in Williston and Randolph Center, regional campuses in Brattleboro and Bennington, and at six nursing campuses located throughout the state. Vermont Tech takes an optimistic, rooted and personal approach to education to support students in gaining the confidence and practical skills necessary to not only see their potential, but to experience it. Our academic programs encompass a wide range of engineering technology, agricultural, health, and business fields that are vital to producing the knowledgeable workers needed most by employers in the state and in the region. www.vtc.edu.
About Vermont Works for Women – Vermont Works for Women helps women and girls recognize their potential and explore, pursue, and excel in work that leads to economic independence. Its three strategic areas include: moving women into employment success through innovative training programs; developing resilient, leaderful girls through its signature program Rosie’s Girls; and advocating for large-scale culture change for women & girls that also powers the Vermont economy. Learn more at http://vtworksforwomen.org.
About Change The Story - Change The Story VT (CTS) is a multi-year strategy to align philanthropy, policy, and programs to significantly advance women’s economic security in Vermont. CTS is fueled of three statewide organizations with a longstanding focus on women’s economic well-being – the Vermont Women’s Fund, the Vermont Commission on Women, and Vermont Works for Women. Learn more at http://changethestoryvt.org.
For more information about 2016 Status Report: Women, Work and Wages in Vermont, please visit: http://changethestoryvt.org/women-work-and-wages-in-vt/