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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

LaHood highlights need for young women to study STEM subjects


At a WTS International event earlier this week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood put out an “urgent” call to encourage more young people, particularly young women, to study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and to consider careers in those fields to help fill the current and future need of jobs in transportation.

“To fill these jobs, we need to prepare young people to seize the opportunities before them,” said LaHood in a prepared statement issued by WTS. “That means teaching the science, technology, engineering and math skills. But that also means linking young women with role models and with mentors, and creating a pipeline that will bring a new generation of young women into transportation industries.”

The skilled talent responsible for innovation in transportation systems is retiring, and the quantity of young people entering the subject areas needed to replace that talent is dwindling, said WTS International President and Chief Executive Officer Marcia Ferranto.

LaHood’s participation at the WTS event, which was a reception held as part of the Transportation Research Board’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., helped bring awareness to WTS’ primary goal of increasing the female demographic in the transportation industry’s professional leadership roles worldwide, she said.

“Within each [WTS] chapter, we encourage the continuing education of women in professional roles in the transportation industry with training, the advancement of women through the ranks with mentorships and networking, and now, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, we’ve set our program for young women aged 13 to 18 years in motion,” Ferranto said, referring to Transportation YOU, a program WTS and the DOT launched last year to encourage young women to focus studies in the STEM areas.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/27/2012