21st “Women Can Do” conference coming to Randolph October 17

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RANDOLPH — Vermont Works for Women recently announced its 21st annual Women Can Do conference, taking place at Vermont Technical Center in Randolph on October 17, 2019.

Up to 500 high school girls from across the state will participate in dozens of hands-on activities designed to expose them to highly attainable careers considered nontraditional for women.

These include jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and the skilled trades.

“We all remember those “aha” moments in our lives, when we see, hear or learn something that had never really entered our consciousness before,” said Jen Oldham, Executive Director of Vermont Works for Women. “Well, that’s Women Can Do. A day-long journey of “aha” moments, because it entices every girl to do and try things they’ve never had a chance to experience before.”

Attendees will also meet women who are successful and making a living in these fields. Organizers say the whole day is about turning gender stereotypes on their head.

Oldham says the absence of role models and lack of exposure to career options are two key factors that prevent women and girls from advancing in career fields where they are currently underrepresented.

Additionally, women in Vermont tend to dominate fields where wages are significantly lower than fields dominated by men.

This has serious economic implications for women, with 43 percent of VT women who are working full time not making enough money to meet basic living expenses.

Vermont girls need exposure to a wide range of careers and activities to inspire them to think outside the box, and expand what they believe they are capable of and what is available to them, Oldham said.

At Women Can Do, over 100 professionals, business people, educators, and public service providers will provide their time and expertise to engage girls in activities that include moving a SUV with a grip hoist, building motors, driving a robot, changing the air filter on a car, web design, climbing a fire ladder, solar installation, and much more.

“The goal of Women Can Do is to provide a fun, safe, engaging environment where participants feel comfortable taking a risk and trying new things,” said Alison Lamagna, Director of Career Education and Gender Equity for Vermont Works for Women. “The result is a greater understanding of all the options available to them as they begin to think about careers and their futures.”