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Hudson County Community College Center for Business & Industry Hosts First Annual ‘Women in Technology’ Symposium

Posted: 4/9/2014
Jennifer Christopher, 201-360-4061 jchristopher@hccc.edu -- Roger Jones, 201-200-1080 rj@j-a-c.com

Day-long event for college and high school students showcased opportunities for
women in STEM fields and the innovative contributions women are making;
high school students also competed in contest.

April 1, 2014, Jersey City, NJ – On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, nearly 200 female students from fourteen high schools in Hudson County and the surrounding area came to Hudson County Community College (HCCC) for the “2014 Women in Technology Symposium.” The first annual event was held at the HCCC Culinary Arts Conference Center in Jersey City.

The day-long symposium, which was developed and hosted by the HCCC Center for Business & Industry (CBI), provided students with information on career opportunities for women in technology and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related fields. Sponsors for the event included AT&T, Alex Pet Care Boarding, Fidelity Investments, Hudson County Community College Academic Affairs, Enrollment Services and Student Services Divisions and LEAP Program, Liberty Savings Federal Credit Union, New Jersey City University, NYIT, Provident Bank, SILVEREMAN, Singularity, and SoundSense.

There were young women and teachers in attendance from Bayonne High School, Dickinson High School, East Orange High School, Ferris High School, Hudson County Schools of Technology - County Prep High School, Hudson County Schools of Technology - High Tech High School, Kearny High School, Miftaahul Uloom Academy, North Bergen High School, St. Dominic Academy, Secaucus High School, Union City High School, University Academy Charter School, and Weehawken High School.

After enjoying a continental breakfast, the attendees were welcomed by HCCC President Dr. Glen Gabert, HCCC Dean of Non-Traditional Programs Dr. Jennifer Dudley, and CBI Executive Director Ana Chapman-McCausland.

Dr. Dudley, who grew up in Bayonne, spoke about the sociological influences that were present when she was a college student and making her career choice. She related how in a different time, she might have opted for a career in medicine or engineering rather than higher education, but at the time, women were often discouraged from pursuing a career in the sciences. “You can’t reach your goals unless you set them,” she reminded the young women in the audience.

Ms. Chapman-McCausland explained that the idea for the symposium was sparked by a conversation with Margaret Laborde, an IT Consultant for Google Apps for Business, who is a great advocate for increasing visibility of women in technology. “Ms. Laborde deserves our great thanks for voicing her concerns and leading us into action,” Ms. Chapman-McCausland stated. She also said that the event had been a year in the making and introduced and thanked the individuals and organizations who had been instrumental in making the day a reality. She then outlined the days’ events, which included:
• A video of Debbie Sterling – an engineer and founder of GoldieBlox, the toy company designed to inspire young girls to become engineers. Ms. Sterlings’s inspiring speech was delivered at TEDxPSU.
• “Educational Requirements Workshops,” led by Jennifer Serviss, a doctoral candidate in Educational Technology at New Jersey City University, and Lenny Andre Williams, Jr., founder of Design by Law.
• “Career Choices Workshops,” led by Phyllis Szani, the Associate Vice President for Information Technology at New Jersey City University.
• Information from staff of Hudson County Community College, New Jersey City University, and Singularity, LLC.
• Review of students’ entries in the “Technology: Past, Present & Future” contest. (There were nine contestants in two divisions; the winners were Analiz Vasquez from Bayonne High School in the individual entries division, and Analiz Vasquez and Monica Youssef from Bayonne High School in the team division. Voting was conducted by symposium attendees via text and Twitter.)
• A buffet luncheon.
• “A Day in the Life of Women in IT” Panel Discussion featuring: Excelerated Performance, LLC Advertising, Creative & Internet Services Director Kathleen Collins; Singulairy, LLC Chief Business Officer Nina Johnson; Excelerated Performance, LLC New Business Development & Sales Force Strategy Development Director Sheila K LaMagra; Soundsense, LLC Founder Dr. Bonnie Schnitta; Jersey City Board of Education Teacher Melissa Marks; and HCCC Center for Online Learning Executive Director Vivian Lynn.
• Voting for the winner of the “Technology: Past, Present & Future” contest.

In the United States today, women make up more than 55% of the workforce, yet they comprise small percentages of the broad spectrum of STEM occupations. Dr. Gabert related that Hudson County Community College is dedicated to turning those numbers around, and that in addition to now having a robust program of STEM studies, the College will be building a new Science Center in the near future.