Pittsburgh, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards and Courtney Ehrlichman, deputy executive director of the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Traffic21 Institute, today spoke to more than 100 college and graduate students, faculty, and regional professionals on the importance of women in public service and transportation.
The forum, held at CMU, drew attention to Global Diversity Month and was the fourth in a continuing series of discussions on this topic being held at Pennsylvania universities and colleges. Melanie Harrington, president and CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh, moderated the session.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are more than 60 million women in the labor force today, yet women make up only 8 percent of engineers, 18 percent of engineering technicians, and 30 percent of natural scientists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that roughly 15 percent of the more than 9.1 million people working in transportation and material-moving occupations are women.
"It is such an honor to share my experiences and have these important discussions with students and professionals statewide," Sec. Richards said. "We need to continue driving home that diverse perspectives are valued and are of critical importance, and we hope that more women and minorities will consider joining the public service and transportation fields."
While overall percentages of women in engineering-related fields are relatively low, the number of women studying engineering is increasing. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, only 5.8 percent of women were engineers in the early 1980s. Now, about 18 to 20 percent of engineering students are female.
"We're honored to host this important conversation," said Ramayya Krishnan, Dean of Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College. "Heinz College's strength and expertise in transportation, mobility, and public policy give us a unique opportunity to reshape society in these areas. We are committed to developing diverse talent at the intersection of people, policy, and technology, which makes this town hall particularly exciting for us."
Members of the public who are interested in commonwealth employment can visit www.employment.pa.gov for more information. Information on student programs as well as professional opportunities at PennDOT is available at www.penndot.gov/jobs.
MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Waters-Trasatt, PennDOT, 717-783-8800
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