New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has been busy leading a recovery and review of the Hard Rock Hotel construction site on Canal Street since its tragic partial collapse on Oct. 12. She’s seen a lot of people, talked with a lot of city officials and asked questions of architects, engineers and others who have construction expertise. The mayor seems comfortable that the people she’s been dealing with appear to know what they’re talking about.
During the recent Girl Scouts Louisiana East Juliette Gordon Low Leadership Luncheon at the Audubon Tea Room in Audubon Park, the mayor noted her meetings with these STEM experts made her realize that something was missing: women. “The majority of them were absolutely men,” she said. Cantrell added while that’s OK, “there’s a great need to make sure that our women, our girls, are being groomed to take their rightful positions in the area of STEM, in the city of New Orleans and in the state of Louisiana.” She said young girls are deserving of everything that can be poured into them to best prepare them for future opportunities like these.
According to the latest Society of Women Engineers research, only 13% of engineers are women, and 26% of computer scientists are women. No one gets to be an engineer without a college degree. Some good news: There’s been a 58% increase in bachelor’s degrees in engineering and computer science awarded to women between 2012 and 2017. Unfortunately, only six percent of bachelor’s degrees in engineering were awarded to women of color. The American Institute of Architects has pushed to include architecture in science, technology, engineering and math curriculums and efforts. Louise Blanchard Bethune is recognized as the first American woman who worked as an architect. Maybe there’s a Bethune among our young girls in the Crescent City, Baton Rouge, Lafayette or elsewhere in the state.
We applaud the mayor for keeping the future careers of girls and young ladies in mind as she deals with what may be the most consequential matter of her term as mayor. Leaders bring up important issues and challenge us to rise to meet them. It’s up to others to step up and clear paths for the next Bethune.