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Education

Job Fair Seeks To Help Missouri And Kansas Students Land Elusive Tech Jobs

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Sam Zeff
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KCUR

Most people know by now that it's pretty hard for women to land a high-tech job.

In fact, while 57 percent of all professional jobs are held by women in the United States, only 26 percent of computing jobs go to women, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

But, it turns out, landing that high paying tech job is even harder for women who go to Midwestern universities.

"Yes, it is very difficult for young women in the Midwest. Many times they may not have all the role models at their schools," says Professor Carol Spradling of Northwest Missouri State University. "They may be very small schools that may not have women who are teaching in their departments."

So Spradling has organized MINK — Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas Women in Computing. For two days they met at the Kauffman Center in midtown Kansas City to hear from mentors, peers and recruiters from tech companies.

Many tech companies have a bias toward schools on on either coast — Stanford, MIT, Harvard and the like. 

But Spradling says the MINK job fairs have been successful, especially with companies from around here.

"We do have a lot of companies in the Kansas City region and in the four-state region that are very aware of the fact that we need more women and they're very supportive of us and trying to get more women to participate," she says.

Spradling says conference participants talk about the differences between what men in tech jobs may want and the expectations of women.

"A lot of young women want to go out and make a difference in the world and they may not realize all the areas they can go into and occupations with technology," she says.

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Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR
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KCUR
Regan Katz is a junior majoring in computer science at Southwest Baptist University.

Regan Katz, a junior at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, majoring in computer information science, says conferences like MINK can help young women gain the confidence and support that she's gained.

"I never feel uncomfortable when I'm in my classes," she says. "My school is great at making all the women comfortable and welcome."

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR. He's also co-host of KCUR's political podcast Statehouse Blend. Follow him on Twitter @samzeff.

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