A growing number of young women today are looking outside their traditional job pool and preparing themselves for careers in technology.

Nursing, teaching, styling hair and running an office have been traditional careers for many women throughout modern times. But, a growing number of young women today are looking outside their traditional job pool and preparing themselves for careers in technology.

Mercedes Moffett, a 17-year-old Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School senior of Fall River, plans to study electrical engineering, a career choice that is dominated by men.

“I like to design and make things,” Moffett said.

She was joined this week by nine other girls from area high schools at the annual Women in Technology Camp at Bristol Community College, a program that has been around for more than 20 years.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the girls did water quality testing from a campus well and built mini-bridges, and today will learn how to program video games and about computer forensics, and sound and graphic design. It is a way for them to explore technical careers. All of the students are members of the Bristol Tech Prep Consortium of BCC.

“I love this program,” Moffett said. “It opens up a lot of doors. It lets you know what’s available.”

Joceylyn Pacheco, 17, also a senior at Diman and a Fall River resident, wants to study to become an architectural engineer.

“It’s something I’ve always been interested in,” Pacheco said.

Ted Boudria, director of Tech Prep, said the young women are referred to the program based on their interest in science and math.

“We do everything we can to nurture those girls,” Boudria said. “The work force will be complemented by having females in these jobs.”

He said they are interested in becoming electrical engineers, architects, mechanical engineers and environmental engineers.

In the Tech Prep program, about 46 girls meet twice a month during the school year at a business site where they are treated as junior engineers. Some of the students provide help to the engineers.

“Some of these young women have saved these businesses tens of thousands of dollars,” Boudria said. “We’ve won four national awards.”

This year’s program is funded by a National Science Foundation Grant and funding from the BCC Foundation.

Barbara Bernard, assistant director of Tech Prep, said women in technology careers are “still way under- represented.”

She said even a very “talented young lady” will have a difficult time in those careers because they are still thought of as men’s jobs, and many women in these fields do not get paid the same as men.

Moffett said it’s “very hard being the only girl” in many of her classes. She said women in these fields are classified as being unable to do the same job as men.

Pacheco, though, said it actually gives her an unfair advantage because being the only woman means her work stands out.

Boudria said that 10 percent or fewer of those in technology careers today are women.
Women “can be nurturing and caring in an engineering field,” Boudria said. “They bring a different perspective to design.”

The young women in this year’s Women in Technology Camp came from Attleboro High School, Dartmouth High School, Dighton-Rehoboth High School, Diman , Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, Taunton High School and Tiverton High School.

E-mail Deborah Allard of The Herald News (Fall River, Mass.) at dallard@heraldnews.com.