Women’s Conference focuses on benefits of technology

Ana Marie Cobos spoke about balancing the roles of mom, wife, and student. (Claire Cote)

Kati Sweet and Katie Widner

Friday at Saddleback College was the place to be for women. The Re-Entry & Women’s Center hosted their 2009 annual Women’s Conference, entitled “Women and Technology,” designed to demonstrate the effect of technology on women’s lives.

The conference featured three women speakers: Brenda Breen, Ana Maria Cobos, and Melissa Klimowicz, who were there to “encourage women to increase and enhance their technological knowledge and skills and capacities, and understand how technology creates more efficiency, productivity and involvement for them in today’s world.”

The speakers disclosed their personal experiences and advice, as well as stories of successful women in the technological field.

“I’m here to share my career as a woman in technology,” said Breen. “What I am passionate about is empowering others.”

The conference, which has been held for 30 years, was especially designed to target re-entry students.

“We want women to be more technological,” said Re-Entry & Women’s Center Director, Sholeh Alizadeh. “It’s about women not being scared to take the first steps.”

Laura Gnewuch, 37, accounting and international business, attended to gain more knowledge about the field and “get into the groove.” She believes that more women should be in the field of technology, and came to the conference to network. Gnewuch especially was interested in the technological theme of the conference, as she works with clients all over the world, and needs to use technology regularly.

The overall goal of the conference was to inspire women. According to Steve Handa, coordinator of the Saddleback counseling department, the conference sought to “provide support and encouragement for women, especially to further their education.”

“We want to encourage [women] to move forward in their lives and in their careers,” said Handa. “An event like this gets people motivated.”

Klimowicz agrees with this theme of inspiration.

“Opportunities are out there,” said Klimowicz. “Technology is a tool. Whatever you want to do is possible.”

“I have an interest and curiosity in technology as a career direction,” said Julie Hayward, 52, undecided, who attended the conference to learn more.

“With the economy the way it is, you must always be looking at past, present and future situations,” said Cathy Patterson, who comes to the conference every year. “The workshop is interesting because everything hinges on technology.”

She says she has things she wants to accomplish in the future, and she wants to be ready. To her, like the many women who attended, the conference was a great opportunity.

As part of the Women’s Conference, the Sociology Club hosted a bake sale fundraising event. Homemade treats such as cupcakes and cookies were available at two for $1.

The fundraiser aimed to raise money to support a carnival booth for underprivileged kids. Disadvantaged children from local YMCAs will attend the booth, which will be held on April 11 at University of California, Irvine. Possible games include a sand-sack toss and a fishing game. Funds gathered will cover the supplies and prizes needed to support the games.

“Many of the children are in foster families,” said Club President Denise Bennett, 34, sociology. “It’s nice for them to have a day of fun.”

“We want to bring light to kids’ lives,” said Sophrona Caicedo, 19, architecture. “We do things like this to help.”

This spirit of philanthropy is event in the Club’s motto, “Pay it Forward.” The Club does other community events, and is open to anyone interested. Meetings are held every other Tuesday in BGS 345. The next meeting is March 27.