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Helping women move forward

March 26, 2018 12:00 AM

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As we celebrate Women's History Month and all of the remarkable women that have changed the past so that more women can have a better future, I am particularly compelled to share my unique story with others.

Before I was appointed to serve as Pennsylvania's first female Secretary of Transportation, there were times in my career where I worked part-time and even was a stay-at-home mom for eight years. I never dreamed that I would hold this title. I have a technical background with a degree in economics and urban studies, and am not only the first woman, but also the first person with an urban planning background to lead the agency. I am proof that the traditional linear career path isn't the only path that exists.

The Wolf Administration, which includes 11 women leading agencies or major offices, takes seriously its commitment to diversity and having women at the table. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2014, women made up approximately 50 percent of all public-sector employees, but only 20 percent hold leadership positions. And according to the Federal Highway Administration, there are more than 60 million women in the labor force today, yet women make up only 8 percent of engineers, 18 percent of engineering technicians, and 30 percent of natural scientists.

Whether you are a girl dreaming of a career in public service or a young woman trying to break through in a STEM profession, it's clear that we must do more to help women enter these fields. Far too many women have been deterred from pursuing a leadership role in transportation or government service because they think they cannot transition in and out of the workforce, or take the career path that works best for them. This should not be the case.

Madeline Albright has always inspired my path to public service. I still remember reading the headline, while holding my then 1-year old on my lap at the kitchen table, that she had been appointed the first female U.S. Secretary of State. One of her more famous lines rings true today: "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."

This Women's History Month, I want all of the girls and women reading this to know that anything is possible. Your perspectives, skills, expertise, and experiences are relevant and needed in the workforce — whether you pursue a career in public service, STEM, or any other field, know that I am rooting for you!​

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