NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WAVE) – In New Albany, there’s one school that puts careers ahead of most others in southern Indiana.
Prosser Career Education Center will be taking that to another level this weekend, as female students in the career programs meet with young women, hoping to inspire them to join traditionally male-dominated fields.
Inside the diesel classes at Prosser, you’ll find mostly boys. Staff at Prosser say there are just two female students out of 26 overall taking the course. Staffers hope to see more women taking the course in the years to come, and other classes like it.
“The young lady who is trying to make those next steps, I do feel like there’s still that stigma and stereotypical field in career path of choice,” said Nancy Campbell, Principal at Prosser Career Education Center. “As parents, as educators, as community members, we do need to be exposing all our students to the potential of what is out there.”
“Ma’am, turn around and put your feet together, ankles touching,” said Izabelle Foster, a senior at Salem High School. Foster is practicing making an arrest through the criminal justice program at Prosser, where she’s been taking classes for more than a year.
When she graduates, Foster said she wants to be a police officer, one day becoming SWAT. She was inspired to go into the profession by her father, who works as a corrections officer in a jail, encouraging her to find a way to explore the profession.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Foster said.
The law enforcement career is something she’s had in the back of her mind for years now. A tour to Prosser years earlier solidifying that as she got to see the courses and options she would have, including hands-on experience.
“They brought us into the mat rooms and I saw all of the equipment and realized, this is somewhere I would want to be,” Foster said.
For the first time, this year, Prosser’s criminal justice program has more women than men. They’re hoping to continue to draw in girls to programs like this one where they can learn real-life skills, like learning how to take fingerprints, and help them turn it into a career.
“Whenever you’re a female and it’s just you, you don’t always want to go out and do it,” Foster said. “But then, you see another female do it and it just gives you another push to want to go out and do it.”
Foster said she hopes that interest inspires other young girls, too.
Through Prosser’s Paint it Pink event on Saturday, girls in grades five through nine from six counties in southern Indiana will come to Prosser and learn more about construction, welding, IT and auto-tech, working to get more women interested in pursuing careers typically aimed at men.
Last year, it inspired principal Nancy Campbell’s daughter, Emma.
“But by the end of her experience here at Prosser, she looked at me in the car and said, ‘Mom, I could be a welder, I never knew I could be,’” Campbell said.
Foster and the women are working to break down stereotypes in the careers they move into. And hopefully, they’ll inspire other young women to do the same.
"It's encouraging," Foster said.
Prosser will be accepting sign-up registration from students in southern Indiana interested in learning more about the Paint it Pink event through Friday the 18th.
Click here for more information on the Paint it Pink event, which runs Saturday from 9 a.m. through noon.