Meridian Star

April 9, 2014

EMCC hosts nontraditional gender

Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     MAYHEW – East Mississippi Community College is fighting gender stereotypes one program at a time.

    On the heels of February’s Women In Science and Technology conference, EMCC held a career symposium for nontraditional students at the Golden Triangle campus. Speakers challenged traditional gender roles in industry and business while highlighting the college's career-technical programs.

    “Women can be welders. Men can be cosmetologists. Anyone can do whatever they want for a living and excel in that field. This event is aimed at fighting stereotypes with information,” said Susan Baird, one of the event’s organizers and an assistant dean in EMCC’s Manufacturing, Technology and Engineering Division.

    After a keynote address from Dr. Kari Babski-Reeves, associate professor and graduate coordinator from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Mississippi State University, participants moved to breakout groups with instructors from various EMCC programs and local industry representatives to learn more about those programs and ask questions.

    Babski-Reeves recalled the challenges she faced as an engineer working with companies like Honda and UPS, where she conducted research and designed processes to improve safety conditions. She said male colleagues sometimes refused to work with her, prior to even meeting her, based strictly on her gender.

    However, she focused more of her remarks on the fulfillment she receives from her work and advised students to build strong support networks around themselves.

    “I have the greatest job in the world and I’m thankful that I was able to overcome the challenges that come with being a woman in a male-dominated field,” she said.

    The Career Symposium for Non-traditional Students was possible thanks in part to a grant from the Mississippi Community College Board.