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Tech Council honors women in STEM fields

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Technology Council celebrated International Womens Day Thursday with honors for eight local women who have excelled in a variety of science and technology careers.

The honorees were recognized at the council’s annual “Women in Technology” event, now in its tenth year, which aims to highlight the achievements of local women as role models who can inspire others to pursue education and opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. This year’s event, themed “Women of the West,” included a range of professionals, from engineers and information technology specialists to scientists and educators who are working to promote STEM.

“We had a really diverse group of women this year with stellar backgrounds and achievements,” said Lisa Adkins, council board member and former chair. “It’s important for us to recognize them and in the process honor each other. It raises women up and helps to empower us while providing positive role models for younger people.”

One honoree, University of New Mexico Information Technology director for applications Alesia Torres, said the award is positive reaffirmation for her, and hopefully for others.

“We need to provide positive examples for young women coming up in the industry, especially as they make decisions about moving into STEM fields,” Torres said. “Seeing other women succeed can help with that.”

OtherĀ  honorees this year were Ronda Cole, AFRL NM director for STEM outreach; Joy A. Colucci, Metis Technology Solutions owner and CEO; Jenniffer DeGreeff, NM Gas Co. head of integrity management; Paula A. Getz, Oracle USA vice president for global risk management; Caitlan Kontgis, applied scientist at Descartes Labs; Tracy Ragan, OpenMake Software co-founder and CEO; Prisca Tiasse Yoder, of the Community Lab LLC.

The council also honored nine female high school students with “Aspirations in Computing” awards, and provided “honorable mentions” for eight others. That’s something the tech council does each year in cooperation with the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

Samantha Andrews, a student in Central New Mexico Community College’s Deep Dive Coding boot camp, also received a $5,000 scholarship at the event to further her training and education.

This year’s awards coincide with a new report by the financial research and consulting firm SmartAsset, which ranks Albuquerque as fifth best city in the nation for women in technology. That’s up six points from last year’s rankings, which SmartAsset has been compiling for four years.

The new report shows Albuquerque as fifth-lowest in gender pay gap, with women on average earning 96 percent of what their male counterparts do. Still, only 28.2 percent of local tech field jobs are held by women, reflecting the ongoing need for support and promotional efforts.