San Jacinto College highlights engineering design graphics professor Mary Ann Blake as part of a Women in STEM series in conjunction with Women’s History Month. Photo credit: Andrea Vasquez, San Jacinto College marketing department.
Some of the most rewarding careers in today’s workforce are in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In conjunction with Women’s History Month, and the American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) national initiative to support women in STEM careers, San Jacinto College (SJC) looks at female faculty teaching within these programs, and how they are shaping the STEM fields every day.
San Jacinto College women in STEM: Mary Ann Blake
Andrea Vasquez-- March 6, 2012
HOUSTON — Engineering design graphics professor Mary Ann Blake has been teaching at San Jacinto College (SJC) since 1986. Along with being a professor, she is also a registered architect and interior designer. Walk into any of her drafting, AutoCAD, or architectural courses and you’ll find her students eager to learn and help each other along their common dedicated career paths.
Blake is still a minority in the engineering sector of the STEM fields. According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, in 2009, 7.4 million workers were categorized as having STEM field careers, making them only 5.3 percent of the U.S. workforce. Of that percentage, engineers were the second largest STEM occupational group, but only about one out of seven engineers were female, making engineering the most male-dominated STEM field.
“You really have to have a determined desire to want to enter this career,” says Blake. “Chances are you already know the studying hours that lie ahead of you, so the challenge becomes keeping yourself disciplined to stay on course of your goals.”
At first, Blake pursued a nursing degree. It wasn’t long until she realized that math and architecture were what really motivated her, so after switching her major in 1980, she graduated from the Texas A&M University College of Architecture. Because of the rigorous academic and professional requirements needed in the engineering industry, Blake encourages her students to find mentors within the industry who can advise them on what potential employers look for and to help them network to find internships and jobs after they complete their degrees.
Blake says that many women who are just starting out in the industry may not know the opportunities and benefits the engineering field has to offer. “There are lots of unlimited learning opportunities that are really enjoyable. There are conventions, seminars, tours, open houses, online classes, magazine articles, and classroom settings all set up to help you learn. You really do get to meet many friendly, helpful people who support your goals.”
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, women who choose a STEM career path earn 29 percent higher hourly earnings on average than their peers who have neither a STEM degree nor STEM-related job. “I tell all my students to set their goals high and try their best. If you want it bad enough you will learn good study habits, take advantage of tutoring, peer support, and most importantly, never be afraid to ask for help. It is important for a woman to be independent and have a career she loves. It allows her to rise to her potential and help society.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
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