Challenging gender bias when it comes to career exploration, the Career and Technology Education department at the Region One Education Service Center hosted a two-day conference, May 12-13, allowing eighth grade students an opportunity to explore career fields that have traditionally been thought of as “male only” or “female only” professions.

Participating districts included Edinburg CISD, McAllen ISD, Brownsville ISD, Freer ISD, and Valley View ISD.

On day one, middle school girls heard from engineering professors and female engineering students about the myriad of careers in the engineering field and offered advice about what classes to begin taking when they enter high school if they are considering pursuing the engineering field. Engineers from Rabba-Kistner and Halff Associates, Inc. also talked to the students about engineering careers.

On day two, in the Boys in Health Careers session, students learned that health career fields can be more than a career as nurses or doctors. Students heard from physical therapists, medical technicians and athletic trainers who offered a new awareness of the medical field.

“By hosting a ‘Girls in Engineering Day’ and ‘Boys in Health Day” we wanted to open the door of possibilities for our middle school students; to get them thinking there are a number of career options for them that don’t have to necessarily be predestined,” explains Christina Salas, Region One ESC Career and Technical Education Specialist.

As girls followed meticulous directions to work a circuit board and boys examined a training mannequin for a heartbeat, students agreed that the day’s activities prompted them to think about careers that they may have hesitated to think about before the conference.

“If students enjoy and excel in math and science, we want them to know there is a career out there for them!” adds Salas.

Region One Education Service Center ( serves over 390,000 students and educators in seven counties in south Texas including Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata counties.

Region One works to assist school districts in improving student performance, assist districts to operate more efficiently and economically, and implement initiatives assigned by the legislature or the Commissioner of Education.