was hired to the new part-time position of Coordinator of Women's
Issues this fall.Growing up, she
was discriminated against because of her
gender and today she
fights to ensure that all women have equal opportunities.The aptitude test that Kathleen Laurila took in ninth grade said that she should be an architect.Her
guidance counselor convinced her
to look into interior design instead because it simply wasn't acceptable for a girl to participate in the male-dominated architecture field.
"I didn't think twice about it then," Laurila
said."But I began to wonder why it had to be that way."Laurila
agreed to go into interior design, and negotiated that she
be allowed to take drafting classes to help get a better grasp of the field.Surrounded by only boys, she
Ever since then, Laurila
has been striving to improve other women's issues. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Commercial and Interior Design, she started her own business in Des Moines, Iowa and later received her Master's degree in Journalism.
free time, the young entrepreneur advocated for non-profit subjects such as women's status, energy, peace, national security and the environment.Today, at the age of 60, she
still loves to get out and hike the hidden trails that cannot be explored by car.
From 1990 to 1994, Laurila
interior design skills on a job for Planned Parenthood.During that time period, doctors and patients of abortion clinics across the country were being attacked; the clinic she
worked for received federal protection around the clock.She
designed ways to make the building safer, such as using bulletproof glass in certain locations.
In 1999, the American Association of University Women
(AAUW) conducted a survey on all University of Wisconsin-System campuses and created suggestions for the improvement of women's issues.This summer, UW-Stout hired Laurila
to the part-time position of Coordinator for Women's
Issues, and is in charge of implementing the AAUW's suggestions.
In addition to her
design work, Laurila
has participated in the International Federation of University Women
, worked through the United Nations to deal with various societies' viewpoints on women and written about women's issues.
One area of concern for Laurila
is the number of females in majors that are generally male-dominated, such as construction, applied math, packaging and technological education.
In order to help boost the number of girls enrolling in these programs, Laurila
organized campus orientation sessions for seventh, eigth and nineth graders.
Another of Laurila's concerns is equal opportunity for females to participate in university sports.
"When I was in high school, I was the sports editor for the school newspaper because girls weren't allowed to play," Laurila
said.With twinkling eyes she
adds, "I joked around about being the first woman sports reporter."
Currently, there are a greater number of male participants and a greater number of male coaches.A comparison of the amount spent on recruitment to the amount of revenue generated shows that the boys received a disproportionately higher amount of funding.
This November, UW-Stout hosted a conference for the Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership (WWHEL).Laurila hopes to establish a joint chapter between UW-Stout and Chippewa Valley.WWHEL provides females with leadership opportunities.
"I would like to hear directly from the students on campus and find out what their concerns are," Laurila
said."I don't know what I'll do, but I'll definitely be taking a look at things."