Dozens of students at Camas High School are working together, putting in long hours, and bringing big names to campus all in the name of equality. The DECA Girls Represent club at CHS is hosting a series of “LunchBox Talks” in which female guest speakers are invited to campus to talk about issues facing women in the workplace.
For the first week, congressional candidate Carolyn Long spoke to staff and students. She is running for the position of a House Representative in Washington’s 3rd congressional district. This first talk kicks off a series of four speakers invited to encourage young girls to explore fields that are traditionally male-dominated.
Seniors Monica Chang, President of Camas DECA, and Rachel Blair, Director of Outreach for DECA, worked together to organize this event. They feel, “It’s important for younger girls to see female role models from their own communities. We want girls to feel empowered to pursue any career they want to and gaining career exposure is a vital part of that.”
Long visited Camas High School on Oct. 2 during A and B lunches. Around 270 students came to hear her speak and listen to her story. Through her visit, Long hopes students leave knowing, “women can do whatever they put their mind to.”
Long also discussed key issues facing women today, saying, “Women’s reproductive health is a major issue. It is important to connect women’s reproductive freedom with economic issues.” She believes society needs to, “acknowledge that fact that [a gender gap in the workforce] exists,” in order to make a change. She went on the explain, “Calling attention to it is always important, so we don’t give the impression that the problem has been solved because it hasn’t.”
Other guest speakers include Dr. Kiki Sanford, a CEO, and entrepreneur, on Oct. 9, Dr. Cynthia Cooper, a molecular biology professor, on Oct. 16, and Dana Lukens, a former military staff sergeant, on Oct. 30. Chang and Blair invited these speakers because “We wanted to represent a wide variety of male-dominated career fields. Our speakers range from a candidate for the U.S. Representatives to a CEO/podcast host to a professor of molecular biosciences.”
DECA Girls Represent does much more than organize events for the school. DECA members founded Girls Represent in September 2017 to help encourage young girls learn about and pursue traditionally male-dominated career paths. This year, DECA Girls Represent will use its outreach to “focus on turning inspiration into action.”
Co-founder and President Chang shared other ways Girls Represent helps the Camas community: “We conduct middle school outreach, partner with other high school clubs (Girls Who Code/Global Feminist Club), and are planning to host professional development seminars.”
Around 140 students participate in DECA and Girls Represent campaign that falls under it. This club was awarded Top Ten internationally at the 2018 DECA ICDC in Atlanta, GA last school year.
For more information about DECA Girls Represent, visit their website or follow their social media pages under @camasgirlsrepresent (Instagram), and @camasgirlsrep (Twitter).