Story by Hannah Robison
Only around 1 percent of students in the program are women, with a few female teachers in the program, said Scott Fraser, a professor in the Electrical Technology department.
STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and math.
Much of the electrical technology program classes meet at the PCC, with several classes in the new QQ and RR buildings. According to the LBCC website, the program prepares students to “install, maintain and repair electrical equipment and systems in a safe and workmanlike manner.” Upon completion of the program, students are able to register for the electrician’s certificate exam.
Christine Caballes, 19, a biological sciences major, said she knows the challenges of being a woman in a STEM-related field: “It is difficult because you could tell in high school the ratio in physics and certain math classes was more boys to girls.”
Lynn Shaw, an electrical technology professor who works in the Chancellor’s Office, said of her experience entering the field: “The reason I did it was traditional women’s jobs are hard, heavy, dirty and they don’t pay very well. I started thinking, ‘I should be able to do whatever job I wanted.’”
Shaw also noted the benefits to the job: “These non-traditional jobs are very high-paying. Just starting out, an apprentice program starts at $17 per hour. There are way more occupations than the ones that are traditionally for women.”
The classes offer real-life experiences in the field, such as learning how to work a traffic light. Suzanne Engelhardt, a professor in the program, encouraged people to join because of its practicality in everyday life: “Whether you’re an English major or undecided, if you at least take Electric 204 and Electric 210, your semester would be a great investment because you’ll have a better understanding of how the power works in your home or at your work.”
Fraser said, “Every woman who has gone through our program now works at incredible jobs.”
Despite the uneven ratio of men and women in the program, Engelhardt said, “I have never felt any type of judgment from any of the instructors…. I was in one of John Hauck’s (who retired in Spring 2016) first electrical classes approximately 25 years ago. About seven years ago, I took that class over because he encouraged me to apply for the job.”
Shaw said most women are hesitant to enter the field because they “don’t see themselves as electricians…. (but) many companies would like more women in these jobs. There’s a benefit of having a workforce that’s representative of the community.”