U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the expansion of an internship program designed to encourage young women to pursue careers in transportation. Secretary LaHood made the announcement at a Women's Small Business Day hosted by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
"Women are an essential part of today's labor force, yet women are underrepresented in the transportation industry," said Secretary LaHood. "We're saying to all the college women out there -- no matter where you're enrolled, there's a DOT Small Business Transportation Resource Center close by to help you plug into your dream job, whether it's an airport, an engineering or aerospace firm, a railroad, a transit agency or perhaps one of our DOT offices."
The internship program will expand from one to ten regions of the country, enabling young women from colleges and universities across the country to participate. It will be administered through the Department's 11 Small Business Transportation Resource Centers. These Centers, spread throughout the nation, provide resources, technical assistance and outreach to all 50 states and U.S. territories. Each Center will be responsible for placing qualified female college students in transportation related internships in their regions.
The expanded program, based on a successful pilot with Spelman College that Secretary LaHood announced in 2009, is part of a broader effort by the Department of Transportation to create a pipeline of younger women coming into the transportation workforce.
"We are excited about expanding a great program that will introduce young women to transportation careers nationwide," said Office of Small and Disadvantage Business Utilization Director Brandon Neal. "It is our goal to assist as many women as possible and continue to be the training ground for future small business owners."
In May 2010, Secretary LaHood also signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Women's Transportation Seminar International to engage women at the juncture when they're beginning to think seriously about their futures and inspire them to pursue careers in transportation by completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. The aim is to attract and retain a new generation of women in transportation professions.
The Women's Small Business Day at the Department of Transportation enabled small business specialists from all of the department's operating administrations to meet with the small business owners in attendance.
The program is one of several internships and fellowship programs offered through the U.S. Department of Transportation for both high school and college age girls. The expanded effort supports President Obama's mission and the work of the White House Council on Women and Girls.