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Reform school: PSU will host a free ‘Summer Transportation Institute’ for girls

Posted by on May 25th, 2016 at 3:29 pm

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It’ll be an introduction to transportation careers.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

If you’re a female high schooler with a yen for understanding how cities work and how to help them evolve, Portland State Unviersity has a deal for you.

PSU’s Transportation Research and Education Center is offering its first-ever Summer Transportation Institute, a two-week course designed to introduce young women (rising into grades 9-12) to the possibilities of a career in shaping streets. It’ll be divided between (a) guest lectures from prominent women in Portland’s transportation world and (b) “field tours of Portland’s transportation infrastructure and public spaces.”

Here’s how the course description puts it:

The transportation work force needs all types of personalities: analytical thinkers, social movers, and creative dreamers. …

The majority of the program will be taught by women working in transportation in the academic, public and private sectors. The objective is not only to expose high school girls to academic and career opportunities in transportation but also to provide them with a narrative of the road to success from each of the professional women.

Portland provides a living laboratory for the students to experience and study multiple modes of transportation in the field. Portland is unique in the United States for its breadth of high quality transportation facilities such as the light rail, streetcar and bicycle and pedestrian network.

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The course runs from Monday, July 11 to Friday, July 21. If you’d like to see whether it might be a good fit for you, PSU has prepared a transportation quiz to help test your “transportation aptitude.” (Note: after a couple trial runs, I strongly suspect that it is not actually possible to fail this quiz.)

If that’s not enough, the program is literally administered by a rock star.

Sarah Dougher (also a singer and rock musician whose day job happens to be at PSU) said in an interview Wednesday that the school hopes to make this the first of an annual tradition.

“There are these camps all over the country,” she said. “Depending on where it takes place, it looks very different in different communities. Ours is going to have a lot on biking and walking, though not exclusively that. Also, we’re interested in thinking about social justice in relation to transportation.”

Though the official deadline for the course is May 27, Dougher said they’re being processed on a rolling basis. So it may be OK to keep applying past the deadline, but the longer you wait the more competition you’ll be facing.

“As girls become interested and apply, then we’ll get back to them once their application is complete,” Dougher said.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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todd boulanger
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todd boulanger

…and what do the “boys” get?

Sarah Dougher
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Sarah Dougher

Other versions of this program in different locations work with different kinds of kids — some are boys, some are co-ed. Because Portland has a particularly rich network of women in transportation fields, it made sense to focus our work around the resources that we have, to strengthen these networks and provide opportunities for young women to meet and learn from women mentors.

Sigma
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Sigma

My first thought when I saw this was “how long until a middle class white man cries sexism?” I had the over/under at 15 minutes and I bet over…Todd won.

Bob K
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Bob K

Sounds like a fantastic program. Kudos to PSU for offering it.

Kat
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Kat

Someone please teach that red-haired girl how to properly wear a helmet!

Jessica Roberts
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Jessica Roberts

In response to Todd, meh, and Brian: According to 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Services, women only make up 15.1% of all people employed in the architecture and engineering professions (and 12.6% of civil engineers). Source: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.pdf. So yeah, I’d say whatever our current training opportunities are, they’re working just fine for boys. I’ve been invited to present to this group and I really look forward to learning more about their interests and aspirations.

Sarah Dougher
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Sarah Dougher

Jessica,
I’m so glad you were able to offer those revealing statistics about gender and engineering/architecture fields. I might also offer the perspective that design of transportation systems is not a neutral undertaking, it exists within culture, freighted as it is with the baggage of systems of power/oppression. If women and girls have an opportunity to contribute to the design of transportation systems, they might look different than they have historically.

dudeluna
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oh man, i totally want my daughter to take this class!

Concerned PSU Student
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Concerned PSU Student

Hello,
I’m currently a PSU student and frequently study in the Engineering Building where this “class” was being taught. Having listened to them for a couple of days, I can say with confidence, this was straight-up liberal propaganda. This class taught nothing of value and instead tried to turn these impressionable young girls into future social justice warriors.
PSU Senior MME