Southwest Airlines Co. and Lea+Elliott, an international automated transit systems consultancy, have made substantial commitments to WTS International, the association for the global advancement of women in transportation, to support the association’s "Transportation YOU" program for girls aged 13 to 18.
Transportation YOU is managed by WTS chapters across the U.S. with various programs that include mentorships, tours and hands-on activities to encourage girls to continue on an academic path focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Southwest will provide travel to help more young women get to Transportation YOU’s flagship event, the Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit, offsetting one of the program’s biggest barriers to entry. Lea+Elliott’s commitment will subsidize the full DC Youth Summit program for several of the young attendees.
“Transportation YOU was created in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation several years ago and has since gained recognition in the industry as an impactful program to get young women interested in STEM studies and make them aware of the career opportunities in transportation,” said Marcia Ferranto, president/CEO of WTS International.
“WTS greatly appreciates the impact Southwest and Lea+Elliott will have on many of our 2014 Summit attendees," Ferranto added. "This kind of support will go a long way in helping our workforce development strategies to grow a more gender-diverse industry and close the growing gap between the thousands of jobs that will be open in transportation over the next several years and the number of qualified professionals to fill them.”
Diane Woodend Jones, Lea+Elliott chairman of the board and a member of WTS International’s board of directors, was instrumental in securing its support for the Transportation YOU program.
“Lea+Elliott is a long-time sponsor of WTS, and we are proud to step up our support in a way that will attract more young women to the transportation field,” she said. “The Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit is part industry tour, part field experience, part project training, and 100% about making connections. It’s an incredible opportunity for girls with an appreciation for science, technology, engineering, or math, and we’re proud to help some who may not otherwise be able to come.”
The 2014 Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit program, which will take place at the end of June, is still under wraps, but in past years the young attendees and their WTS member mentors have had intimate meetings with former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, toured the traffic tower at Reagan Airport, completed field work in the study of transportation accessibility and met with officials at the National Transportation Safety Board.